File picture: A researcher works on the development of a vaccine against the new coronavirus COVID-19, in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, on March 26, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Rio De Janeiro: Brazil said Saturday it was in talks with the United States to import COVID-19 vaccines that Washington is not currently using and has already vowed to share with Mexico and Canada.

The statement from the Brazilian foreign ministry came two days after the White House announced plans to send the US neighbours millions of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is still awaiting regulatory approval in the United States.

The US, which has stockpiled a total of seven million doses of the two-dose vaccine, will send 2.5 million to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Brazil appeared to be referring to the same stockpile.

"Since March 13, the Brazilian government... has been negotiating with the US government to make it possible for Brazil to import vaccines from the surplus available in the United States," the foreign ministry said in a Tweet.

It did not immediately respond to a request for further details.

Hard-hit Brazil has been struggling to secure enough vaccines for its 212 million people.

It has so far issued at least one dose of vaccine to around 5.4 percent of the population - far off pace to reach the health ministry's target of vaccinating all adults by the end of the year.

Psaki said that under the deal, US vaccine deliveries to Mexico and Canada would be in the form of a loan, repaid with future AstraZeneca doses when the neighboring countries have their own surpluses.

Brazil is currently using both the AstraZeneca vaccine - recently given fresh stamps of approval from European regulators and the World Health Organization, following concerns over possible side effects - and Chinese-developed CoronaVac.

The South American country is struggling to contain a surge of Covid-19 that has pushed hospitals in many areas to the brink of collapse.

More than 290,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, second only to the United States.