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Biden receiving his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

A member of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 advisory team told CNBC on Monday that Biden plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost production of coronavirus vaccines.

Why it matters: The law allows the president to direct the private sector to prioritize manufacturing in the interest of national defense.

The big picture: Biden will invoke the wartime law to ensure that "personal protective equipment, the test capacity and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply," Biden adviser Dr. Celine Gounder told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

  • Gounder added that under the Biden administration, the U.S. will see "a major increase" in testing to track mild and asymptomatic cases of the virus, as well as in genomic surveillance, which tracks mutations of the virus to pick up on new variants.
  • "We did not do that routinely," Gounder said, referring to genomic surveillance under the Trump administration. "We have the technology. We just chose not to spend the money on that kind of public health surveillance."

The state of play: The U.S. government has purchased 400 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna through Operation Warp Speed, including a 100 million-dose agreement reached with Pfizer last week amid revelations that some states would receive between 25%-40% fewer vaccine doses than originally projected.

  • The U.S. has also secured 400 million doses of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline that have not yet been authorized by the FDA.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has said every American who wants a vaccine should be able to receive one by June 2021.

Go deeper: Why Americans will demand to be able to prove they're vaccinated

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.