The US will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the world, the White House has said.
The vaccine has not yet been authorised for use in the US but the country has been making good progress on its vaccination programme using the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J jabs.
White House COVID-19 response co-ordinator Jeff Zients said: “Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the US already has and that have been authorised by the FDA, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorised for use in the US, we do not need to use the AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next several months.
“Therefore the US is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca doses with other countries as they become available.”
More than 53% of adults in the US have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and it is expected that there will be enough to cover the entire population by early summer.
Meanwhile, other countries are desperate – India is struggling under the weight of a COVID-19 outbreak that has seen it set records for the number of new cases in each of the past five days, and many other poor countries have not even started vaccinating due to lack of supply.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said 10 million doses already produced could be cleared for export “in coming weeks”, with 50 million more ready to ship in May and June.
But she said: “Right now, we have zero doses available of AstraZeneca,” adding that regulators still needed to review the quality of the doses already produced.
It is still being decided where the doses could be sent.
Ms Psaki said: “We will consider a range of options from our partner countries and, of course, much of that will be through direct relationships.”
The promise comes after Joe Biden’s administration said in March that it would send about four million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Canada and Mexico.
It has come under growing pressure to share more widely.
AstraZeneca would not comment on the arrangement but said the doses set to be shared were part of its supply commitment to the US government.
A spokesperson said: “Decisions to send US supply to other countries are made by the US government.”
More than three million people worldwide have died with COVID-19, including 572,000 in the US.