By Simon Lewis and Mary Milliken
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is hearing “huge demand” from countries around the world for vaccines not needed by Americans, but has not yet developed a criteria for allocating them, the U.S. State Department’s coordinator for global COVID-19 response, Gayle Smith, said on Friday.
The White House said on Monday the United States will start to share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus vaccine with other countries, as soon as the next few weeks, but the Federal Drug Administration still needs to approve those doses.
Smith said on a call with reporters that Washington hasn’t decided yet on how to allocate those vaccines that will be shared with other countries, despite the clamor from allies like India, where the virus is surging.
“I think we certainly will be making a decision based on what impact we can have on the spread of the virus, where needs are most acute and what will be the most effective,” said Smith.She said the situation in India was “very, very serious” but had not yet peaked and would need persistent attention for some time and the immediate aid that the United States was already providing, such as protective gear and vaccine manufacturing supplies.
“We’re also looking at other things that can be done to build up supply chains within India so there can be a more steady supply of all those things that are needed to manage this overtime,” Smith said.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Mary Milliken; Editing by Leslie Adler and Aurora Ellis)