The United States will purchase more vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, increase its vaccine supply by 17% next week and give states more specific information about supply to help with their vaccination programs.
(CN) — President Joe Biden announced a raft of new measures Tuesday in an effort to boost Covid vaccine supply for a nation still in the throes of a deadly pandemic that continues to produce record fatalities on a daily basis.
The president said the federal government will increase the supply of vaccines to states by 17%. His announcement comes a day after he said he wants to get vaccines into the arms of 1.5 million Americans every day in a bid to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office.
“This is going to allow millions more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated,” Biden said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its numbers Tuesday to show the federal government will make 10.1 million doses available next week, up from about 8 million. The doses are produced by Pfizer and Moderna, currently the only two vaccines approved for use in the United States.
Biden also pledged Tuesday to purchase 200 million more doses from both companies with an eye toward vaccinating 300 million Americans by the end of the summer. Approximately 330 million people live in the U.S.
“This is going to be enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer, early fall,” Biden said. “It is enough to beat the pandemic.”
On Tuesday morning, Johnson & Johnson chairman Alex Gorsky announced the company is expected to show results from its clinical trial next week, the next step in a process that could make as much as 100 million vaccines available to Americans by the end of June, pending an expeditious authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The entry of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine into the market would be key as it would be the only Covid vaccine currently that requires a single dose. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine require two doses spaced several weeks apart.
Frustrations are mounting in states as vaccination appointments are canceled because of a dwindling vaccination supply.
“I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have,” Rochelle Warinsky, the newly minted CDC director, told Fox News Sunday. “And if I can’t tell it to you, then I can’t tell it to the governors, and I can’t tell it to the state health officials.”
Biden promised Tuesday that he would give states a three-week outlook of supply so they can plan their vaccination allotments accordingly.
“We’re getting this coordinated in a way that there is more cooperation and confidence,” Biden said. “Until now, we have had to guess how much is available.”
While members of the Biden administration have criticized the previous administration, the new president offered his most blunt assessment of the situation he and his team inherited.
“When we arrived, the vaccine program was in worse shape than we expected or anticipated,” he said, criticizing the Trump team for not fully cooperating during the transition.
Biden also said the near-term prospects for pandemic are not promising and that the death toll could rise to about half a million people by the end of February.
The program is in a race to beat the spread of a virus that is mutating to become more transmissible, the president said.
“The brutal truth is that it is going to take months before we get the majority of Americans the vaccine,” Biden said.
To date, the federal government has distributed approximately 44 million vaccinations, with about 23.5 million vaccinations administered to date.
About 423,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States since the outbreak began this past February, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. About 25 million Americans have been infected.
Worldwide, the number of cases hit a grim milestone Tuesday: over 100 million people have been infected by the virus that causes Covid-19. Over 2.1 million have died.