Pfizer is starting to export U.S.-made doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada and Mexico, the first exports of its shots from the United States, according to reports.
Canada will start getting Pfizer doses from the U.S. next week, the Associated Press confirmed. Pfizer also began shipping doses made at its Kalamazoo, Michigan, plant to Mexico this week — the first time the company has delivered abroad from U.S. facilities, according to Reuters.
Pfizer will use extra capacity in its U.S. facilities to deliver vaccines abroad while continuing to meet its commitment to supply the United States, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech have also been supplying other countries with doses from its European production plant in Belgium.
Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.
FILE - Vials in boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Dec. 13, 2020. (Photo by MORRY GASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
To date, nearly 145 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while more than 101 million Americans — or 30.5% — are fully vaccinated, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
Pfizer has delivered almost 160 million doses to the U.S. from its Michigan plant and that's expected to be 200 million by the end of May. Combined with doses from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the country's supplies are so robust that some U.S. states have even turned down planned shipments from the federal government.
President Joe Biden, who took office in January as the virus was raging in the U.S., has responded cautiously to calls for help from abroad.
He has focused the bulk of his administration's vaccinations efforts at home. He kept in place an agreement struck by the Trump administration requiring drugmakers that got U.S. aid in developing or expanding vaccine manufacturing to sell their first doses produced in the country to the U.S. government. The U.S. has also used the Defense Production Act to secure vital supplies for the production of vaccine, a move that has blocked the export of some supplies outside the country.
But the swift vaccination campaign in the U.S. has prompted increased calls for the country to share its stockpile with other countries in need of vaccines.
Canada has been receiving Pfizer’s vaccines from Belgium until now because U.S. authorities had kept supplies made in the U.S. for domestic use. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated Friday that starting next week, Canada will be receiving 2 million doses a week from Pfizer alone.
Vaccinations have ramped up in Canada in recent months. Every adult in Quebec will be eligible to make a vaccine appointment on May 14 and in Ontario, Canada’s largest province, every adult can book an appointment starting May 24.
Trade-dependent Canada previously lagged on vaccinating its population of 38 million because it lacks the facilities to manufacture the vaccine itself.
Mexico’s health ministry told Reuters it is receiving 2 million doses from Pfizer this week. It has received more than a million doses from Belgium since Wednesday and expects around another million this week. However, Reuters could not confirm if the remaining Pfizer doses would come from Michigan.
Last month, the U.S. shared 4 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses with Canada and Mexico. Biden said additional vaccine supplies would be forthcoming.
The U.S. also began shipping COVID-19 supplies such as oxygen, diagnostic tests, treatments, ventilators and personal protective equipment to India, which has faced a devastating surge of cases and deaths with its teetering health system under immense strain.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.