Reuters is reporting that the United States plans to invest billions of dollars in expanding COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity and make available an additional one billion doses per year, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said on Wednesday. Zients said the government was preparing to offer makers of the mRNA vaccines substantial help to expand infrastructure and capacity, including facilities, equipment, staff, or training. In the short term, the program would make a significant amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses available at cost for global use. In the long term, it would help establish sustained domestic manufacturing capacity to rapidly produce vaccines for future threats, Zients said.
The investment in vaccine production is part of a private-public partnership to address vaccine needs at home and around the world and to prepare for future pandemics, he said. It will be paid for with funds from the American Rescue Plan Biden signed into law in March. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are the only makers of mRNA vaccines, though Zients said subcontractors of those companies would also be included.
Activists have pressured President Joe Biden’s administration to increase vaccine supply to poorer countries. In the short term, the program would make a significant amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses available at cost for global use. In the long term, it would help establish sustained domestic manufacturing capacity to rapidly produce vaccines for future threats, Zients said.
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients says officials estimate that 2.6 million kids ages 5-11 will have gotten their first COVID-19 shot by end of day. https://t.co/oZzHEUMqjm pic.twitter.com/8Xl7zY8rNn
— ABC News (@ABC) November 17, 2021
Zients said 80% of Americans 12 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, highlighting a milestone in efforts to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
America's COVID booster program is off to a blistering start — 2nd fastest in the world — with over half of the seniors who were made eligible last month already getting their boosters.
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) November 16, 2021
He also said 2.6 million kids aged 5-11 will have received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Wednesday.
To those who think Biden has done nothing: $1400 stimulus checks, additional unemployment benefits, child tax credits, increased earned income credit, nutrition assistance, housing aid, vaccine distribution and testing, implementing procedures for safe schools, housing aid 1/
— Ann Werner (@MsWerner) November 16, 2021