And the president has pledged to donate up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. But those doses, also made at the Emergent plant, are not authorized for domestic use and cannot be released to other countries until regulators deem them safe. If they are not cleared for release, Mr. Biden would have to agree to donate more of the three vaccines used here to fulfill his 80 million promise.
The president has described the vaccine donations as part of an “entirely new effort” to increase vaccine supplies and vastly expand manufacturing capacity, most of it in the United States. To further broaden supply, Mr. Biden recently announced he would support waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. He also put Mr. Zients in charge of developing a global vaccine strategy.
But activists say simply donating excess doses and supporting the waiver are not enough. They argue that Mr. Biden must create the conditions for pharmaceutical companies to transfer their intellectual property to vaccine makers overseas, so that other countries can establish their own vaccine manufacturing operations.
Peter Maybarduk, the director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, called Thursday for the administration to invest $25 billion in “urgent public vaccine manufacturing at sites worldwide” to make eight billion doses of vaccine using mRNA technology within a year, and to “share those vaccine recipes with the world.”
Asked recently whether the United States was prepared to do that, Andrew Slavitt, a senior health adviser to the president, sidestepped the question, saying only that the United States would “play a leadership role” but still needed “global partners across the world.”
On Thursday, Mr. Zients said the United States was lifting the Defense Production Act’s “priority rating” for three vaccine makers — AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sanofi — that do not make coronavirus vaccines authorized for U.S. use. The shift means that companies in the United States that supply the vaccine makers will be able to “make their own decisions on which orders to fulfill first,” Mr. Zients said.
That could free up supplies for foreign vaccine makers, allowing other countries to ramp up their own programs.
Abdi Latif Dahir contributed reporting.