US diverting its order of raw material for COVID-19 vaccine to India: Senior official

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Senior US administration officials announced Monday that Washington was diverting its own order of raw materials to produce the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to India, rejecting reports that the US was blocking the export of vaccines to foreign governments.

India has been inundated with new coronavirus cases over the last week with new infections peaking and reaching above 300,000 new cases per day.

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The country’s hospitals have had to close their doors to patients due to a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

The Biden administration has been heavily criticized for its lack of help to India, specifically for reportedly having millions of extra vaccines sitting in storage.

But on Monday, US officials said they were dedicated to the global COVID response and to helping end the pandemic.

Washington has its own order of raw materials needed to produce vaccines, specifically the British AstraZeneca vaccine. And with the US having an ample supply of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, officials said that the US was now diverting its own order to India.

The official also revealed that the US had produced “some” AstraZeneca vaccines, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the jab for use inside the US.

Approximately 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are ready to be released for use in other countries once the FDA issues the greenlight.

Another 50 million doses are in various production phases and could be ready within two months, the official added.

Separately, the State Department said that what was happening in India was “profoundly worrying.”

“We are working non-stop across the government to do all we can to deliver on an urgent basis the supplies most needed within India. That includes oxygen assistance and related materials,” State Department Ned Price said during a press briefing.

Price also said the US was deploying an “expert team of public health advisors” to India.

Read more: Saudi Arabia sends oxygen to India amid hospital shortage, surge in COVID-19 cases

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