The United States aims to acquire an additional 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, President Joe Biden said Tuesday, enough to vaccinate most Americans by the summer, as he races to curb a pandemic he warned could still get worse .
The Biden administration will buy 100 million doses each of the vaccines made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, and Moderna Inc., increasing total doses to 600 million, with delivery expected by the summer.
The previous purchase target was 400 million doses.
Each vaccine requires two doses per person to be fully effective, suggesting that the new purchases would accumulate enough stockpile to vaccinate most of the country’s 331 million people. The vaccines are not approved for use by most children.
“This is a wartime endeavor,” said Biden in the White House State Dining Room under a painting of President Abraham Lincoln, who led the Union to victory in the United States Civil War.
Pfizer is confident it can deliver the additional doses in the schedule set out by Biden, said spokeswoman Sharon Castillo.
Moderna declined to comment.
The new purchase target, along with promises to get more vaccine for local authorities, raises the bar for a Democratic president who took office last week with vows to repair what he said was a disastrous emergency response by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.
Biden said he would hike the amount of vaccine going to local governments to 10 million doses a week for the next three weeks, up from 8.6 million currently. The news was welcomed by governors, who said they needed even more doses.
“We appreciate the administration noting that it will provide slightly higher allocations to states for the next few weeks, but we will need much more supply,” Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement after briefing on call from Jeff Zients, the administration’s COVID-19 response coordinator.
“I urge President Biden to take all imaginable steps within his power to increase productivity without delay.”
Significant challenges remain, ranging from faster-spreading virus variants, supply shortages and public fears about taking the vaccine. The Biden administration has sought to address this latter problem by having senior officials publicly vaccinated. Vice President Kamala Harris took her second last shot manufactured by Moderna on Tuesday at the National Institutes of Health.
Biden has asked Congress for a $ 1.9 trillion relief package to increase vaccine testing and distribution, but the proposal is met with Republican resistance over the price tag and includes some measures not directly related to virus control.
Senate Democrats will approve the impulse even without the support of Republicans, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.
The administration has also faced extensive questions after sending mixed messages on issues such as when the population would be fully vaccinated.
On Monday, Biden said he believed it was possible to give 150 million doses of the vaccine during his first 100 days in office, an aspiration press secretary Jen Psaki said was not an official adjustment to the target current of 100 million doses over that same time period.
The pandemic, which has killed over 420,000 Americans, is currently infecting more than 173,000 people every day and leaving millions out of work.
“Cases will continue to rise,” Biden warned. “We didn’t get this mess overnight. It’s going to take months for us to turn things around. Let me be equally clear: We’re going to get through this. We will defeat this pandemic. ”(Reuters)