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This story is part of Watching Washington, a regular mailing of CBC News correspondents covering US politics and developments affecting Canadians.
The United States must make it a priority to ship vaccines across the border into Canada and Mexico once Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, a U.S. lawmaker says.
This could happen sooner than expected: on Tuesday, the US announced an accelerated target for late May to produce enough cans for all Americans.
Vicente Gonzalez looks forward to the US relaxing its export ban that has prevented overseas shipments of cans made in the country.
The administration of US President Joe Biden, like the Trump administration before, has blocked exports and rejected requests from Canada and Mexico for deliveries.
“The borders in my district are closed,” the Democratic legislature, whose Texas district lies on part of the border between the United States and Mexico, told CNN Monday. “Mexican nationals with visas who usually travel here or have second homes [or] Come and do business here are currently not allowed across the border.
“So we definitely have to immunize our friends across the border at some point when we’re done here in our country.”
Gonzalez said the US would only truly recover from the pandemic if its neighbors are also safe.
Vicente Gonzalez, seen here at a press conference in August 2020, serves a Texas-Mexico border community in the House of Representatives and says the US should lift its export ban on COVID-19 vaccines. (Joel Martinez / The Monitor via AP)
“I think we have five vaccines for every American, so we certainly have some extra vaccines that we could share with other countries – especially someone like Mexico or Canada, who we do a lot of business with … where a lot of trade and tourism flow regularly, “said Gonzalez in an interview.
“So we don’t live in isolation in this world. It’s a global community, and North America is certainly a very close community. We have relatives on both sides of the border, we do business on both sides of the border, whether it’s Canada or Mexico. “
Gonzalez’s comments point to a question that will only get worse in the coming months: What happens to massive manufacturing capacity in the United States if export bans are lifted on plants like Pfizer in Michigan and Moderna in New England?
The United States vaccinated residents at four times the rate in Canada. Biden has said in the past that there should be enough vaccines for all Americans by the end of July, but on Tuesday he tweeted that he had postponed that target date to the end of May.
This puts the US schedule a few months ahead of Canada’s.
Vaccines are arriving faster than expected, according to Biden:
Three weeks ago, I announced that we would have enough vaccine for all Americans by the end of July.
Now that we try to get production going, we’ll have enough vaccines for every American by the end of May.
– @ DESIGN