White House and federal health officials are debating sending millions of AstraZeneca doses overseas as the U.S. government waits for safety clearance for the vaccine.
Senior administration officials told The New York Times there has been intense debate among U.S. officials about the fate of tens of millions of the British-Swedish company's vaccine doses that are sitting in manufacturing facilities in Ohio and Maryland amid pleas for the supply from other nations that have already approved it for use.
Some officials argue that the supply should go abroad, while others are not ready to give them up, sources told the Times.
AstraZeneca has also been involved in the talks, and the company told the times that it has urged the U.S. to be mindful of other countries' requests.
“We understand other governments may have reached out to the U.S. government about donation of AstraZeneca doses, and we’ve asked the U.S. government to give thoughtful consideration to these requests,” Gonzalo Viña, a spokesman for AstraZeneca, told the Times.
The company has asked the Biden administration to send the doses to the European Union (EU) but an official told the Times that the administration has since declined to do so.
The Times reported that some federal officials have pushed the administration to make the decision in the next few weeks. Some have suggested sending the doses to Brazil, where the coronavirus continues to ravage the population.
AstraZeneca vaccines have not been approved in the U.S, and the company has not yet applied for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The report from the Times comes after Italy, with support from the European Commission, reportedly blocked AstraZeneca vaccines from being shipped to Australia after the company allegedly failed to deliver the requested amount of doses to the EU.
Results from the phase three trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.S. should arrive in the next few weeks, but it is not clear how soon after the results the vaccine would be approved for use.
The Hill has reached out to AstraZeneca and the White House for comment.