Washington: The U.S. will send at least an additional 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, in addition to the 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines it has already committed, to other countries, President Joe Biden said on 17th May

The doses would come from existing U.S. production of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks, according White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said more details would be released in the coming days.

It would mark the first time that U.S.-controlled doses of vaccines authorised for use in the country will be shared overseas, as domestic demand for the shots has dropped significantly in recent weeks.

The announcement comes on top of the Biden”s administration”s prior commitment to share about 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the U.S., by the end of June. The AstraZeneca doses will be available to ship once they clear a safety review by the Food and Drug Administration.

Mr Biden said the 80 million doses represent 13% of the country’s vaccine production (by June-end) and that the U.S. will be donating more than Russia and China, which had donated 15 million doses, according to him.

Globally, more than 3.3 million people are confirmed to have died from the coronavirus. The U.S. has seen the largest confirmed loss of life from COVID-19, at more than 586,000 people.

To date, the U.S. has shared about 4.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with Canada and Mexico. Additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine manufactured in the U.S. have begun to be exported as the company has met its initial contract commitments to the federal government.

The U.S. has faced growing pressure to share more of its vaccine stockpile with the world as interest in vaccines has waned domestically.