US sitting on unused vaccine stock as India & Brazil struggle amid devastating Covid-19 surge
World currently is waking up every morning with ominous news of catastrophic surges in Covid-19 cases across nations. Leaving few, all countries are witnessing a nightmare with skyrocketing cases and increased death toll. Leading this unfortunate list are India and Brazil. Amid this the United States of America is sitting on a massive stockpile of 35-40 million AstraZeneca vaccines that the Americans would never use, according to Brown University School of Public Health.
After days of criticism of no help extension from Biden administration towards India that is struggling to stay afloat massive second wave amid oxygen and vaccine shortage, US on Sunday broke its silence. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Sunday, “Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific Covid-19 outbreak. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s health care heroes.”
Advocates across US raised campaigns calling upon the government to step up to answer the global call for vaccine equity. Epidemiologists are urging the leaders to release excess stockpile of AstraZeneca vaccine to countries in despair like India and Brazil, considering they would never be used by Americans.
Ashish Jha of Brown University School of Public Health, US is “sitting on 35-40 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine Americans will never use”.
In early April, US’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that in most likelihood country would not use the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19. One prime reason is that it hasn’t been given EUA (emergency use authorization) by FDA amid raised concerns around its safety after cases of rare but risky blood clots were documented among young women in European nations. It is believed that by time air is cleared around vaccine, majority of Americans would already have been vaccinated with either of the three available Covid-19 vaccines.
US has already given four million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada.
US Chamber of Commerce issued statement on Friday, “These vaccine doses will not be needed in the United States, where it’s estimated that vaccine manufacturers will be able produce enough doses by early June to vaccinate every American. This move would affirm US leadership, including in initiatives such as COVAX, and as we work with partners around the globe because no one is safe from the pandemic until we are all safe from it.”
This has further prompted epidemiologists and industry experts to call for diverting the AZ vaccines to India which is experiencing vaccine shortage.