President Joe Biden will announce a series of measures on Tuesday aimed at ramping up coronavirus vaccine allocation and distribution, including buying 200 million more vaccine doses and increasing distribution to states by millions of doses next week, according to sources familiar with the plan.
The US plans to buy 100 million more doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 100 million more from Moderna, an official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the President’s remarks, told reporters. A White House document indicated that the additional vaccines are expected to be delivered this summer.
That’s a 50% increase in the order for each vaccine, increasing the planned supply from 400 million to 600 million, the official said.
“We expect these vaccines to be available in production over the summer,” the official added later. “We will obviously do everything we can to accelerate and assist the manufacturers, but that is our current understanding.”
Pfizer and Moderna are working to step up production.
“With these additional doses, the US will have enough vaccine to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of this summer,” the official said.
According to the White House, the President is also taking action to increase the weekly vaccine supply to states, tribes and territories — upping the current 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses weekly. Additionally, the White House will be providing three week vaccine supply look-ahead reports to states as opposed to one week look-aheads.
Biden’s Covid coordinator, Jeff Zients, informed governors on a call Tuesday afternoon that Covid vaccine allocations for states would increase by around 16% starting next week.
A White House document explaining the move says the Biden administration is committing to maintaining this as the minimum supply level for the next three weeks.
During remarks announcing the new vaccine efforts Tuesday afternoon, the President is also expected to address ways his administration hopes to get those vaccines delivered to states while keeping track of them in a transparent way, a senior White House official told CNN.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the President would “provide an update on his team’s work to bolster the vaccine supply available so that we can, in turn, get more shots into Americans’ arms as quickly as possible.”
“There are some calls this afternoon with governors to brief them on these plans and give them an update on how we will continue to work together even more efficiently,” Psaki added.
Psaki was pressed on Tuesday during the White House briefing on why the Biden administration has said it does not know what the current coronavirus vaccine supply levels are. Psaki echoed her previous comments blaming the Trump administration for the problem, saying there hasn’t been a federal plan in place.
She noted the software platform that was designed to guide the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines is “oftentimes” imperfect. The platform, Tiberius, was specifically developed for Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s vaccine program that started under President Donald Trump.
In addition to having enough supply of the vaccine, Psaki said the White House is focused on ensuring there are enough people to administer the vaccine and enough vaccine centers and locations people can go to get vaccinated.
The new efforts come one day after the President said he expects the US will soon be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day, which is a notable increase from the administration’s previously stated target of 1 million per day. The President said that the US could surpass that initial target in about three weeks, and said that he thinks anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get it by this spring.
Biden’s official goal on administering vaccines still remains 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office, multiple White House officials told CNN after Biden raised the new 1.5 million doses a day aspiration. That initial goal is enough to cover 50 million Americans with vaccines that require two doses.
There have been about 22.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines administered to Americans as of Tuesday afternoon, according to data provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The two Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration — one by Pfizer/BioNTech and one by Moderna — require two doses administered several weeks apart in order to be most effective. About 3.3 million Americans have received two doses of a vaccine as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the CDC.
The President said Monday that the key factors involved in ramping up vaccinations are having enough of the vaccine, syringes and other necessary equipment and people administering them.
The vaccine supply and the question of whether there will be enough doses to go around has been a key concern for the Biden administration, CNN has reported.
Biden signed an executive order on his first full day in office to ramp up supplies for vaccinations. The order was part of a series of actions Biden took that day to address the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to devastate the nation and has claimed the lives of more than 421,800 Americans as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Biden administration believes it did not inherit a working federal coronavirus vaccine distribution plan from the Trump administration.
“The sad part is the last administration didn’t leave anything, didn’t leave a plan,” Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond said on CNN over the weekend.
Before taking office, Biden was openly critical of what he described as a “dismal” rollout of the Covid vaccines under President Donald Trump.