U.S. President Joe Biden says his administration is open to supplying Canada with additional shipments of COVID-19 vaccines from its unused stockpile of shots.
The U.S. has a surplus of vaccine doses that it’s not currently using, Biden said — a likely reference to the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, which Canada has approved but the U.S. has not.
The U.S. has already loosened its tight controls on vaccine supply and allowed 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to be shipped to Canada. And Mexico was supposed to get 2.5 million doses under a loan agreement.
Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Biden said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for about half an hour to discuss the pandemic and vaccines.
“We hope to be of some help and value to countries around the world,” Biden said.
“I’ve talked to our neighbours — a fellow who is working really hard to take care of his country and deal with this; I was on the phone for about half an hour today with the prime minister of Canada. We helped a little bit there. We’re going to try to help some more.”
The readout of the call released by the Prime Minister’s Office said “the two leaders discussed vaccination efforts in both countries, and the urgency of getting people everywhere vaccinated as quickly as possible to end the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The Prime Minister and the President discussed the recent exchange of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in the United States,” the readout said.
Facing a rapidly growing third wave of the pandemic, several Canadian provinces have adjusted the recommended age limit for the AstraZeneca vaccine, lowering it from 55 to 40 or 45.
Trudeau, 49, said Tuesday he plans to get a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as his office manages to book an appointment for him at a vaccination clinic or a pharmacy now that age restrictions for the vaccine have been adjusted.
The federal government has distributed 2,316,020 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and its Indian-produced version, Covishield, across Canada. Many of them have been administered already and there is no word yet on when Canada will get its next shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines.
With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press