The Biden administration is making plans to share millions of doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and preparing a major effort to help India fight a resurgence of the virus, as calls mount for the U.S. to do more to assist developing countries in confronting the pandemic.
The White House said Monday it would share as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rest of the world. U.S. officials also said they were exploring options to urgently dispatch oxygen and related supplies to India.
President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India reported 352,991 new coronavirus cases on Monday, marking the fifth consecutive day the country set a global record for a single-day rise in infections.
The Biden administration has faced growing pressure to share vaccine doses with India and other developing countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and are far behind wealthier countries in procuring and administering vaccine doses.
India’s hospitals have been overwhelmed, with beds and oxygen in short supply and crematoriums running out of space as the country recorded a million new cases in just three days. Reports and images of people dying on the pavement waiting for treatment have underscored the severity of the surge.
AstraZeneca declined to comment on whether it was consulted on the decision. “The doses are part of AstraZeneca’s supply commitments to the U.S. government,” a spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said in an email. “Decisions to send U.S. supply to other countries are made by the U.S. government.”
A senior Indian official said New Delhi hadn’t specifically requested the supply of unused AstraZeneca doses, but would gladly accept a portion of them if offered.