Vaccine Exports From U.S. Accelerate as Moderna Ships Abroad

Moderna Inc. has begun exporting U.S.-produced Covid-19 vaccines to other countries, a key step as U.S. vaccine supply begins to be shipped abroad.

The company’s early U.S. production had been fully absorbed by a single buyer -- the federal government -- as the country, under the administrations of Donald Trump and then Joe Biden, used wartime powers to prioritize its orders and make sure it was the front of the line for vaccine supply for Americans.

Both the Biden administration and Moderna confirmed this week that the company has begun to ship vaccine supply abroad from its U.S. production, though it’s not clear when that began, how many doses have been shipped or where they’ve been sent. Pfizer Inc. has also begun shipping from the U.S. to countries including Mexico, Canada and Uruguay.

Moderna and Pfizer have been the backbone of the U.S. vaccination campaign, which is leveling off as domestic demand wanes. Their shipments of their coveted mRNA vaccines could be a turning point for nations that have sought to get any doses they can, including ones that have shown lower efficacy.

The U.S. government has separately pivoted to share its own doses abroad, with Biden pledging this week to ship 80 million doses by the end of June, including 20 million that are authorized for U.S. use -- Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. That will be the first time that Biden has shared U.S. government-owned doses that he could have used domestically. The remaining 60 million doses are from AstraZeneca Plc., whose vaccine isn’t authorized for U.S. use.

Covax Distribution

Some of the doses will be sent through Covax, a global vaccine distribution system aimed at getting doses countries in need of vaccine. Biden hasn’t said which nations will receive doses from the U.S.

“We intend that the allocation of the vaccines will include, obviously, a substantial portion through Covax, but we have not made final decisions,” Gayle Smith, the State Department’s coordinator for the global Covid response, said at a briefing Wednesday.

The vaccine exports are comprised of those doses produced in the U.S. and sold by companies to other countries, and doses bought by the U.S. government before being donated. The total number of shots sold or donated abroad by the U.S. so far remains unclear.

Moderna spokesman Ray Jordan confirmed that the company is shipping some vaccine doses abroad, but said he couldn’t provide additional details. White House Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said this week that Moderna was exporting but declined to give further details.

Moderna has delivered 145 million doses to the U.S., or about 41% of supply so far, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. is administering 1.8 million shots per day, down from a high of 3.4 million in mid-April.

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