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Biden promises to share 60 million COVID vaccine doses with hard-hit countries

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President Biden has promised to ship up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to other hard-hit countries, officials said — as India battles a catastrophic surge in infections.

“Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the US already has and that have been authorized by the FDA, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use in the US, we do not need to use the AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next several months,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Monday.

“Therefore the US is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca doses with other countries as they become available.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is used abroad, but has not been approved yet in the US.

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 performs rituals during cremation in Gauhati, India.
As COVID-19 rages in India, over 192,000 people have died of the virus in the country.
Anupam Nath/AP

Zients said about 10 million doses of the vaccine have already been produced, but are awaiting review from federal regulators.

Once they’re deemed safe, those doses will be shipped out, likely in the next several weeks, Zients said.

About 50 million more shots are in various stages of production and could be ready to be sent out in May and June, he said.

President Joe Biden responds to a question from reporters about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House.
President Joe Biden has promised his administration will send other countries the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which has not been approved for use in the US.
Evan Vucci/AP

It’s unclear which countries will be the recipients, but both Mexico and Canada have asked the US to share vaccines.

Meanwhile, people in India — a nation of 1.4 billion — are collapsing in the streets amid skyrocketing cases that are overwhelming hospitals and causing a critical oxygen shortage.

“We’re in the planning process at this point in time,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki of where the doses will be sent.

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 reacts at a crematorium in Jammu, India.
India now has registered over 17 million cases, which is second most in the world.
Channi Anand/AP

The promise of vaccine help comes after Biden spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a call in which he vowed to work closely with the country to fight the virus.

With Post wires

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