White House secures deals for 200 million more Covid vaccine doses

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that his administration has secured deals for another 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, bringing the U.S. total to 600 million.

“Just this afternoon, we signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines,” Biden said Thursday while on a tour at the National Institutes of Health, adding the U.S. will have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.

The Washington Post first reported the news. Earlier, White House chief of staff Ron Klain appeared to confirm the news, retweeting the Post story from his official White House Twitter account.

Because both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s authorized vaccines require two doses given about three to four weeks apart, the total of 600 million doses would be enough to inoculate 300 million people.

Biden is trying to pick up the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. after a slower-than-expected rollout under former President Donald Trump’s administration. Roughly 34.7 million out of some 331 million Americans have received at least their first dose of Covid vaccine, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 11.2 million of those people have already gotten their second shot.

The schedule for delivery of the additional doses was not immediately clear.

Each company will leverage U.S.-based manufacturing capacity “to fill, finish and ship vials as the bulk material is produced,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a separate statement.

Pfizer already has a deal with the U.S. to deliver 200 million doses. The company said earlier this month that it planned to finish those shipments by May, earlier than its initial forecast of July. Moderna also has a deal with the U.S. for 200 million doses.

States have complained that demand for the vaccines is outpacing supply. The administration has previously said it using the Defense Production Act to help Pfizer meet its manufacturing targets for its vaccine.

In addition to securing more doses for states, the Biden administration is using the military to help administer doses and is setting up mass vaccination centers across the United States.

On Wednesday, the administration announced it would partner with Texas officials to build three new community vaccination centers, in Dallas, Arlington and Houston. A few days earlier, the administration said it was sending active-duty troops to California to help staff Covid-19 vaccine sites there.

U.S. officials are also hoping vaccine supply will increase after Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, which could happen as early as this month. The FDA has scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Feb. 26 to discuss the vaccine, and the U.S. could authorize the vaccine the next day.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced in August that it reached a deal with Janssen, J&J’s pharmaceutical subsidiary, worth approximately $1 billion for 100 million doses of its vaccine. The deal gives the federal government the option to order an additional 200 million doses, according to the announcement.

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