White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo
March 19 (UPI) -- The Biden administration said it plans to send a combined 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and Canada as the shot is being considered for approval in the United States.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday during a press briefing that they are in the process of finalizing the "loan" of 2.5 million doses of the vaccine to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada.
"Our first priority remains vaccinating the U.S. pollution," she said. "The reality is that the pandemic knows no borders. And ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is mission critical to ending the pandemic."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved use of three vaccines with others, including the AstraZeneca vaccine, currently under consideration for emergency authorization.
Psaki told reporters that as the vaccine continues through the rigorous approval process, they were working on agreements with both countries for the doses already in the United States' possession though other countries have also requested access to them.
Asked what the United States would get in return, Psaki said "future AstraZeneca doses or other doses."
The United States has 7 million releasable doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, she said.
Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard confirmed there was a deal with the United States following a conversation between President Joe Biden and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Details were still being hashed out, he said via Twitter, but the agreement will ensure second doses for some 870,000 older adults who were administered their first shot last month.
"It will be the best start for a broad cooperation on vaccines," he said, adding the deal will be concluded over night.
In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the United States was "coming to our rescue."
"God bless America," he said. "I've been bugging Trump, I've been bugging Biden, all of them. They must get sick of Doug Ford asking for help."
"President Biden, thank you," he said.
The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come under criticism as Canada has secured more vaccines per capita than almost any other nation but has been unable to get them in people's arms.
According to the People's Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of health and humanitarian organizations, by early December Canada had secured enough doses to inoculate its population five times.
However, the country has struggled to receive them due to delays and short supply, the CBC reported.
According to Oxford University's Our World In Data project, Canada has administered 0.3 vaccine doses per 100 people in a country with a population of 38 million spread over the world's second-largest country.
Mexico has only administered 0.14 doses per 100 people in a country of more than 125 million people.
The announcement from the White House came as Biden said his goal of administering 100 million doses during his first 100 days in office had been achieved a month early.
"I'm proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met our goal," he said.
The United States has jumped into third in the world for doses administered per 100 people at 0.74, only behind Israel with 0.85 doses and Chile, which has administered 1.51 doses, according to the Oxford University project.