Nov 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden admin offers drugmakers billions to spur vaccine supply

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 pediatric vaccine at a Salvation Army vaccination clinic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.
Photo: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is planning to offer U.S. drugmakers billions of dollars to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine production capacity, aiming to produce at least 1 billion doses a year, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday.

Why it matters: The Biden administration's investment comes as pressure mounts on the U.S. to support vaccine distribution in low-income countries.

Driving the news: The investment is also aimed at preparing for and preventing future pandemics, according to Zients.

  • "This program would also help us produce doses within six to nine months of identification of a future pathogen and ensure enough vaccines for all Americans," Zients said.
  • The New York Times first reported the administration's investment.

The big picture: The investment, which will forge a partnership between the federal government and pharmaceutical companies, is aimed at supporting companies that produce mRNA vaccines, according to Zients.

  • "It would combine the expertise of the U.S. government in basic scientific research with the robust ability of pharmaceutical companies to manufacture mRNA vaccines," Zients said.
  • The partnership will help expand the companies' vaccine manufacturing capacity by providing funding for equipment and training, among other things, according to the Washington Post.
  • Production is set to begin by the second half of 2022, Zients said.

The bottom line: "We hope companies step up and act quickly to take us up on this opportunity to expand production of mRNA vaccines for the current pandemic and set us up to react quickly to any future pandemic threats," Zients said.

Go deeper: The global coronavirus vaccine gap

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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