MSF welcomes US decision to share AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

An MSF nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine

Lebanon 2021 © Tariq Keblaoui/MSF

NEW YORK, APRIL 26, 2021—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontierès (MSF) welcomes the Biden Administration’s decision to donate AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses to other countries. As the US has secured far more vaccines than it needs, sharing surplus doses with the rest of the world would ensure more people can be vaccinated, said the international medical humanitarian organization today. The US government should also mobilize the transfer of critical vaccine technology and production information so more manufacturers across the globe can help boost the global supply.

Dr. Carrie Teicher, director of programs at MSF-USA, said today:

"The US decision to donate AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines is an important and welcome step towards increasing equitable access worldwide.

"Getting these 60 million doses off the shelves and into arms as soon as possible will directly protect 30 million people from contracting COVID-19.

"But this is only one step the US government should take. The US must now transfer all of its surplus vaccine doses—not just those made by AstraZeneca—to COVAX and boost production globally so more vaccines can be manufactured in more places.

"While people in the US are getting vaccinated at record rates, we don’t have the luxury of turning a blind eye and moving on with our lives. Hoarding COVID-19 vaccines in the US will only hurt all of us in the end; the longer it takes to vaccinate everyone in the world, the greater the risk to us all as new variants have more opportunity to take hold.

"The US has secured enough doses to protect its entire population of 330 million and still have more than half a billion surplus vaccines left over, so we should absolutely be donating doses to COVAX immediately. Meanwhile, only 0.3 percent of global COVID-19 vaccine supply has gone to low-income countries.

"If we want to end this pandemic, we need the US to demand that pharmaceutical corporations that received public funding to develop COVID-19 vaccines share their technologies and know-how with other manufacturers that stand ready to help. This will allow millions more people across the globe to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.

"Donating surplus doses to COVAX and facilitating the scale-up of supply are steps the US government can take now to meet this global challenge and help end this pandemic for everyone.”