"Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the United States already has, as I mentioned, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved for use in the usa, we do not need to use the AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next few months".
The announcement reflects growing pressure the US has faced to share its vaccine supply with other countries, such as India, that have seen surges of Covid-19 infections or struggled to jump-start their vaccination drives.
Makhija commended the Biden-Harris administration for providing critical medical supplies and lifting the embargo on vaccine raw materials necessary for India to produce the Covishield vaccine.
The US, on Sunday, agreed to export raw materials to India that are critical for the production of vaccines, thereby giving India an exception under the Defence Production Act, 1950 (DPA), due to which the raw material firms delayed their exports.
Canada will also receive 1 million more Pfizer shots and 650,000 Moderna doses. The New York Times has reported extensively on problems at the plant, which had to throw out millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine between October and January, and later discarded up to 15 million doses of the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, also because of concern about possible contamination.
The product quality of the American-made AstraZeneca vaccine will be checked by the US Food and Drug Administration before being shipped, given that a review is being conducted at a plant where the doses were manufactured, Mrs Psaki said. Doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be sent to countries "as they become available" and "in stages", according to another U.S. official.
About 10 million of the doses are on hand but they are not ready for sending overseas as the FDA was still reviewing the plant where they were made, the official said.
60 million doses to be shared as they become available.
It has since stated that its option for extra AstraZeneca doses will not be taken up. The US will dispatch a "Strike Team" comprising of public health experts to India, the official added. Just 5.3% of India's population has been fully vaccinated as of Monday compared with 36% in the U.S.
The continent has confirmed more than 4.5 million COVID-19 cases, including 120,000 deaths, a tiny fraction of the global fatalities and caseload.
"Given that there is not enough of the supply for the entire global manufacturing effort and in light of the current crisis, we, the United States, are diverting our order to India", the official added.
The US has also identified sources of rapid diagnostic testing supplies and protective equipment that will be made available to India.
In their Monday phone call, according to senior administration officials, Biden and PM Modi pledged to work closely together to combat the virus and Biden promised steadfast support for the people of India amid the surge in Covid cases.
The aid package includes oxygen and related supplies, with the US looking at sending oxygen generation systems.
The Strike Team will also include CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officers and laboratory leads, leadership and service officers who will work directly with USA officials. "And I would say, safely, that everything is on the table right now for discussion", Fauci said at an event hosted by the Harvard School of Public Health.
The World Health Organisation expects to decide whether to give emergency approval for China's two main Covid-19 vaccines in the next two weeks.
The US government, which has contracted with AstraZeneca for a total of 300 million doses, will donate the doses - though the company has faced production issues.