Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

White House to finish allocating 80 mln U.S.-made COVID-19 shots for shipment abroad

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Vials labelled "Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine" are seen in this illustration picture taken May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

June 17 (Reuters) - The White House will finish allocating 80 million U.S.-made COVID-19 shots that it has pledged to ship abroad in the coming days, with shipments going out as soon as the countries are ready to receive them, a top U.S. official said on Thursday.

The United States has already begun shipping doses, said White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients, adding that some shots were meant to go to Canada on Thursday and some will go to Brazil in the coming weeks.

Canada said it expected to receive about one million Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) shots from the United States on Thursday. Later, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter that the United States had delivered a million doses to Canada.

The Biden administration earlier this month announced plans for how it will allocate 25 million shots and said it would allocate the remaining 55 million shots by the end of June.

The United States has been increasing shot shipments abroad as it progresses quickly in its vaccination campaign for its own residents. The White House announced last week that it was purchasing 500 million Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) shots to donate to poorer countries in 2021 and 2022.

More than 175 million Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose so far, and nearly 65% of U.S. adults have received one shot. Meanwhile, countries such as India and Brazil have continued to face severe outbreaks of COVID-19 and are still in desperate need of shots.

Zients said U.S. cases and deaths are down more than 90% since late January and are at their lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

But he cautioned he is concerned about low vaccination rates in some U.S. communities, especially as a dangerous new variant first identified in India, known as the Delta variant, is spreading in the United States.

Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said her agency will present details on Friday about more than 300 confirmed cases of heart inflammation reported among the more than 20 million young adults and adolescents who have received COVID-19 vaccines.

Reporting by Carl O'Donnell Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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