The US has received requests from “around the world” for doses of Covid-19 vaccine but so far has not fulfilled any of them, the White House says.
That is because President Biden’s “priority and focus is on ensuring the American people are vaccinated” before delivering vaccines to other countries, according to press secretary Jen Psaki.
She was answering a question about why the US is sitting on tens of millions of doses of a vaccine made by AstraZeneca, which isn’t yet authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration but is approved for use in dozens of other countries.
The situation has caused concern in places struggling to secure enough vaccine supply, principally in Europe.
Even as the US buys up millions of doses of the three vaccines granted emergency use authorization — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — it has also maintained an inventory of AstraZeneca that cannot be distributed as it proceeds through the FDA process.
“We want to make sure we have maximal flexibility, that we are oversupplied and over prepared and that we have the ability to provide vaccines — whatever the most effective ones are — to the American public,” Psaki said. “There are still 1,400 people who are dying in our country everyday.”
“At this time there have been requests from around the world — of course — a number of countries who have requested doses from the US and we have not provided doses from the US government to anyone. This is not about Europe, this is about our focus and priority,” she said.
She said while US companies have contract obligations to deliver doses to the US government, they were still free to make deals with other countries.
Asked if Biden felt he had a moral obligation to deliver vaccines to other countries, she said his focus was on containing the US crisis.
“He wants to have, as a leader of this country, to have maximum flexibility,” she said, adding he still wanted to signal the US wants to be “collaborative and cooperative” with the global community.