US to Share Vaccine, Biden Offers India Support, More

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US to share millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses with other countries

The Biden administration on Monday announced that it will move to donate millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries, after pressure from lawmakers and advocates.

The United States has millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized in the US, but is in other countries, and could play a key role amid worsening spikes in cases abroad, particularly in India.

“Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the United States has already authorized, and that is available in large quantities, including two two-dose vaccines and one one-dose vaccine, and given AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against COVID over the next few months,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

Pressure had been mounting: Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) had called on the administration to release the doses on Sunday, as had Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health, in a Washington Post op-ed on Saturday.

Still, doses not available right away: Psaki said the doses cannot be released immediately, as they will first have to undergo safety reviews by the Food and Drug Administration. A Baltimore plant that had been producing the vaccine has faced a string of problems and was cited by the FDA for multiple safety failures.

Once the FDA clears the doses, “in the coming weeks,” Psaki said about 10 million doses will be available. An additional 50 million doses are in “various stages of production” and could be available across May and June, she said.


Biden speaks with Prime Minister Modi as COVID-19 surges in India

Biden speaks with Prime Minister Modi as COVID-19 surges in India
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President Biden on Monday spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pledged to provide assistance as the world’s second most populous country grapples with soaring coronavirus infections.

“The two leaders resolved that the United States and India will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the effort to protect our citizens and the health of our communities,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

The United States is sending India aid to help with depleted oxygen supplies, vaccine materials and therapeutics in an effort to help stem the surge in cases that has strained India’s health care system.

Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement Sunday that the U.S. was “working around the clock to deploy available resources and supplies.” The Biden administration has identified test kits, ventilators and other supplies that would be made available to India, she said.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” Horne said.

Communications between U.S. and Indian officials come as India faces a mounting crisis of coronavirus cases.

India on Sunday reported roughly 350,000 new cases, setting a single-day record for any country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Times reported that India has vaccinated just under 2 percent of its population, even though the country is producing two shots domestically.

The surge in cases threatens progress around the globe in the fight against the pandemic.

The Biden administration on Monday also announced it is preparing to share millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries in the latest sign the U.S. is ramping up its vaccine diplomacy efforts to get the virus under control globally.


Post-pause hesitation? Poll shows few unvaccinated Americans willing to get Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Few Americans who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are willing to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following the temporary pause in its distribution due to rare blood clots.

Just 22 percent of unvaccinated Americans in a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted before the pause ended said that they would be willing to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Almost three in four — 73 percent — said they were unwilling.

Slightly fewer than half of all the adults surveyed also said they consider the Johnson & Johnson vaccine very or somewhat safe.

Additionally, more than 7 in 10 respondents say they regard each of the other two vaccines that have been approved in the U.S., one by Moderna and another by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, to be very or somewhat safe.

Background: The CDC and FDA lifted their recommended pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccinations last Friday after analyzing data from less than 20 rare cases of blood clots out of the millions of vaccinations administered.

What this means: Concerns about how the pause would affect vaccine hesitancy may have been justified, although polls from last week indicated the decision wouldn’t affect most people’s willingness to get their COVID-19 shot.

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