White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki could not confirm whether Canada would be at the top of the list to receive extra COVID-19 vaccines from the U.S.
Asked by reporters during a press conference on Tuesday to confirm whether U.S. allies Canada and Mexico would be first to receive the shots, Psaki said: “I can’t.”
“Obviously we have already lent doses to Canada and Mexico — they are not only our neighbours they are our friends,” she said.
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Psaki said the “process is just beginning.”
“And I don’t want to get ahead of the process.”
Psaki said the administration’s COVID-19 task force is working alongside the national security team to determine where the requests are coming from, and where the most need is.
The U.S. is working to determine “where we can be the most impactful in helping get the pandemic under control,” Psaki said.
Psaki’s comments come a day after she said up to 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses are expected to become available for export within the next two months.
The U.S. will be sharing its COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca, which have not been approved for use by the Food and Drug Association (FDA).
“Given that AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against COVID over the next few months,” Psaki said.
“We’re going to assess a range of requests for a range of needs around the world,” she continued.
Up to 10 million doses could be released “in the coming weeks,” pending FDA quality approval, Psaki said.
The other 50 million doses could be available to ship in May and June, she said.
Canada meanwhile, approved the shot from AstraZeneca back in February.
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It’s not immediately clear whether Canada has requested any of the surplus shots.
However, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, procurement minister Anita Anand said her team is continuing to “work closely with the Biden administration and I am in contact with my counterpart there, Jeffrey Zients, and our Ambassador Kirsten Hillman.”
Anand pointed to the 1.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines Canada received from the United States in March.
“We look forward to updating Canadians as soon as there are additional details to share,” she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also asked by reporters about the surplus vaccines from the U.S. on Tuesday, and whether Canada will need any additional doses from the U.S.
Trudeau said “those conversations are obviously ongoing,” adding that he and U.S. President Joe Biden shared a “good conversation last week on this and other topics.”
“Canada is positioned to receive close to 50 million doses of vaccines before the end of June,” Trudeau said. “So it is all a question of timing. We know that we have the capacity to deliver vaccines immediately into more arms as we can get more vaccine doses into Canada.”
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Trudeau said his government is working to increase the country’s capacity to deliver vaccines.
“And indeed, it is not about taking vaccines from the rest of the world, because we have such significant contracts for all the major vaccines that are out there right now,” he continued. “It is a question of simply moving up timings and exchanging doses so we can get through our vaccination quicker and all the quicker turn to supporting people around the world.”
According to Health Canada, as of Monday evening, a total of 14,444,052 COVID-19 vaccines had been distributed to provinces across Canada.
As of 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, a total of 12,448,361 of those doses had been administered.
-With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun
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