Clearly addressing concerns and criticism about global coronavirus vaccine inequality, the White House said Monday it will begin sharing doses with foreign countries. The administration's Jen Psaki said that the government would provide up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's (AZN -0.18%) AZD1222 for such nations.
While the AstraZeneca jab is readily available in this country, it has not yet been authorized or approved for use by the FDA, so it cannot be administered here.
AZD1222, which was developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford, has received such nods in various countries outside our borders. These include Oxford's home of the U.K. and India, a relatively poor country that is currently experiencing a frightening surge of coronavirus infections and COVID-19 fatalities.
Although the country would still be in desperate need of vaccines even if it were to receive all of the U.S. supply, any amount will help alleviate the crisis.
In her remarks, Psaki said the government could clear 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab for export in the next few weeks. The remaining 50 million are currently in production; they could be shipped out starting next month.
The Feds have not yet determined where their supply of AZD1222 will be directed, nor how they will allot them country by country. Psaki said only that "We will consider a range of options from our partner countries and, of course, much of that will be through direct relationships."
AstraZeneca shareholders didn't react strongly to the news. The company's stock essentially traded in concert with the S&P 500 index on Monday, inching up to close the day 0.2% higher.