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US to Export Millions of AstraZeneca Vaccines to Canada, Mexico, Despite Safety Concerns

© REUTERS / Yves HermanAstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured amid a vaccination campaign in Bierset, Belgium March 17, 2021
AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured amid a vaccination campaign in Bierset, Belgium March 17, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.03.2021
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization highlighted that it was in "regular contact with European Medicines Agency and regulators around the world" and acknowledged many countries have "temporarily suspended" use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to reports of blood clotting in patients injected with the vaccine.

Citing an unnamed White House official, the Associated Press confirmed Thursday that US President Joe Biden's administration is finalizing a plan to export a total of four million doses of the controversial AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to the US' next-door neighbors. 

Under the current plan, which would be Washington's first COVID-19 vaccine export, Mexico would be provided 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and Canada would receive the other 1.5 million doses. 

The White House official noted the exported vaccines would be a "loan." It's unclear what repayment will look like. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, as well as Mexico's secretary of relations, confirmed the report Thursday. 

"I can confirm that we have 7 million releasable doses available of AstraZeneca," Psaki told reporters during a press briefing. "2.5 million of those, we are working to finalize plans to lend those to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada." 

According to the President's remarks on Tuesday, additional countries may receive the US surplus of COVID-19 vaccines. 

"We’re talking with several countries already," Biden told reporters. "I’ll let you know that very shortly."

News of these expected exports comes alongside reports of blood clots being found in patients who received the AstraZeneca jab. While the US has yet to authorize the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, both Canada and Mexico have approved its rollout. 

A top US health official told Reuters that the AstraZeneca vaccine could be authorized by US regulators in a month.   

Martha Delgado, Mexico's deputy foreign minister for multilateral affairs, told the outlet last week that the Mexican government held diplomatic discussions with the US following Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's March 1 conversation with Biden, and specifically requested AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

"The possibility exists of being able to have access to some AstraZeneca batches they have," she said. "That vaccine is already authorized in Mexico, but doesn’t have authorization at the moment in the United States." 

Roselyn Lemus-Martin, a Mexican COVID-19 researcher, told The Guardian that the US may be acting in its best interest by exporting vaccines to its immediate neighbors. 

"If Mexico is not vaccinated, people who travel to the US, they’re going to probably bring new variants and there are going to probably be a surge of cases … especially with the new variants because we don’t know what variants are in Mexico," Lemus-Martin said. 

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