A White House official confirmed on Tuesday that 1.35 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine had arrived in Mexico. FedEx Express moved the vaccine shipment from Memphis, Tenn., to Toluca, Mexico, via FedEx International Freight in coordination with Direct Relief and the two countries’ governments.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration had announced that it had planned to share 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of June, including 6 million earmarked for allies and partners which includes Mexico, Canada and about a dozen others as well as U.N. frontline workers.
The administration said 75% of the vaccines would be donated through COVAX and 25% would be shared “for immediate needs and to help with surges around the world.”
“The sharing of millions of U.S. vaccines with other countries signals a major commitment by the U.S. government,” the Biden administration had said at the time. “Just like in the United States, we will move as expeditiously as possible, while abiding by U.S. and host country regulatory and legal requirements, to facilitate the safe and secure transport of vaccines across international borders. This will take time, but the president has directed the administration to use all the levers of the U.S. government to protect individuals from this virus as quickly as possible.”
The administration said it would disclose specific amounts and which vaccines were being shared as it worked through “logistical, regulatory and other parameters particular to each region and country.”
Last week, a report emerged that the U.S. had temporarily halted new shipments of Johnson & Johnson doses in a bid to relieve a backlog of expiring jabs. In response to the Wall Street Journal report, a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson said the company was working with the government to support use of the vaccine.
Just one day later, another report said the FDA had instructed the company to throw out about 60 million doses of vaccine that were produced at the troubled Emergent BioSolutions facility. A news release stated that while two batches of vaccine from the plant were authorized for use, “several other batches” were not suitable for use, and additional batches were still under review.
The one-shot jab faced a troubled beginning in the U.S., after regulators initiated a temporary pause in the national rollout as it investigated a possible link to a rare, serious blood clot issue. Appointments that were canceled during the pause were rescheduled using available Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech supply, contributing to the current backlog.
The FDA has since moved to expand the expiration date for millions of expiring doses by six weeks, but with vaccination rates slowing across the U.S. it’s unclear how it will impact the rollout. About 11.6 million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson shot out of the 21.3 million doses that have been delivered. By comparison, about 169.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot has been given, and 129.1 million doses of Moderna.
Fox News’ Pat Ward and Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.