As states struggle to receive adequate supplies of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, the Biden administration has announced an agreement with pharmaceutical firms to make more vaccine doses and deliver them faster.
In remarks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), President Biden announced that Moderna and Pfizer had both agreed to deliver an extra 100 million doses each and speed up the production schedule.
As a result, Biden said the U.S. would have enough vaccine doses by July to vaccinate 300 million Americans in the two-dose regimen. That does not take into account the likely approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine later this month. The company said it already has millions of doses of its vaccine candidate on hand and is ready to distribute them.
“We have to stay vigilant, we have to stay focused and for God’s sake, we have to remember who we are,” Biden said. “We are the United States of America. We can do this.”
The announcement comes as Americans age 65 and older have been added to the pool of people eligible to receive a vaccine. However, states have struggled to find enough vaccine doses to meet the demand
When retail pharmacies began receiving direct shipments of vaccines from the government this week, the allotted doses were booked within hours. Biden expressed frustration with the national vaccine rollout program he inherited from the Trump administration.
“My predecessor, to be very blunt about it, did not do his job to get ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans,” Biden said.
Making the vaccine is one thing. Getting it into people’s arms is another. Administration officials are hopeful that anyone who wants the vaccine will be vaccinated by the end of August.
Currently, the government is sending vaccine doses to states every week. To help state governments better organize the “last mile” distribution, the administration said it is now giving states three weeks’ notice of their estimated allotment.