The White House announced Tuesday afternoon that the Biden-Harris administration will be purchasing an additional 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine as the country looks to ramp up its supply to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s administration has requested 100 million additional doses of Moderna’s vaccine, as well as another 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, the president said Tuesday — an order that doubles the federal administration’s previous vaccine supply.
While the purchase has not yet been confirmed, Biden said Americans can expect the increased doses to be available by mid-summer at the latest.
“This is enough vaccine to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer, beginning of the fall,” Biden said of the impending purchase. “This is an aggregate plan that does not leave anything on the table or anything to chance, as we have seen happen in the past year.”
The move will lessen pressure on authorizing additional vaccines – namely, the candidates in late-stage testing from AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Johnson & Johnson – to increase the vaccination supply and get Americans inoculated against the deadly virus which has killed over 421,000 in this country alone.
The demand for vaccines has outpaced supply in many states across the country, with many governors criticizing the federal government for not being transparent about shipping plans and delays.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC reported that just over half of the 44 million doses distributed to states have been put in people’s arms — well short of the hundreds of millions of doses that experts say will need to be administered to achieve herd immunity and conquer the outbreak.
Biden on Tuesday blamed the previous administration for the botched rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, saying the program his team received in the days leading up to his inauguration was “in worse shape than we anticipated.”
After review of the previous coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, Biden’s own administration came up with “a vaccination strategy centered on federal leadership and execution for our whole country,” a large shift from the more hands-off approach of his predecessor.
In order to further address statewide concerns of vaccine availability, Biden said his administration plans to ramp up “overall weekly vaccination distribution to states, tribes, and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses'' per week. Biden also pledged to provide states with firm vaccine allocations three weeks ahead of delivery to allow for accurate planning for injections.
Still, the president warned that there are still months to go before the coronavirus pandemic is fully under control, and urged Americans to continue wearing masks and to practice social distancing.
“Let me be clear: things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” he said. “We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it is going to take months for us to turn things around.”
“But let me be equally clear: we are going to get through this,” Biden added. “We will defeat this pandemic.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.