AstraZeneca PLC’s COVID-19 vaccine, which has been plagued by problems with its rollout, may not even be needed in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.
In an interview with Reuters, Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, said that even if AstraZeneca’s
vaccine wins U.S. regulatory approval, the country may have enough vaccine doses already secured to take care of the entire U.S. population, including possible boosters.
When asked by Reuters if he thinks the U.S. will use AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Fauci said: “That’s still up in the air. My general feeling is that given the contractual relationships that we have with a number of companies, that we have enough vaccine to fulfill all of our needs without invoking AstraZeneca.”
The U.S. has already approved coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer Inc.
and BioNTech SE
and Johnson & Johnson
and secured contracts for hundreds of millions of doses. Novavax
which last year signed a $1.6 billion contract with the U.S. government as part of Operation Warp Speed, is hoping to get emergency-use authorization for its vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration by May.
That could leave AstraZeneca the odd drug-maker out.
“If you look at the numbers (of doses) that we’re going to be getting, the amount that you can get from J&J, from Novavax from Moderna if we contract for more, it is likely that we can handle any boost that we need, but I can’t say definitely for sure,” Fauci said.
If that happens, the U.S. may end up distributing its share of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to other countries. Last month, the Biden administration announced it would “loan” 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada and Mexico, which have both already approved it. There has also been global pressure on rich countries to boost the number of vaccine doses to poorer countries.
Last May, the U.S. secured 300 million doses of the vaccine AstraZeneca was developing.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been approved in more than 70 countries, but a number of European countries and Canada have suspended or restricted its use over blood-clotting concerns. Confidence in the company was also shaken when it was accused of cherry-picking data about the vaccine’s effectiveness in a U.S. study. Last week, the British drug maker updated that data, saying its vaccine was found to be 76% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, rather than the previously announced 79%.