Joe Biden is reportedly planning on invoking the Defense Production Act to shore up the production of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.
The news came from Dr. Celine Gounder, a Biden advisor, in a CNBC interview. “The idea there is to make sure the personal protective equipment, the test capacity and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply,” Gounder said.
Biden announced a plan to ensure that 100 million vaccine shots are administered to Americans within his first 100 days in office, suggesting that, with the available vaccines requiring two shots, approximately 50 million people would be vaccinated across that 100-day period, according to a New York Times report.
The President-elect also criticized the current execution of the vaccine rollout under the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed, warning that, at the current pace, vaccinating the entire country would “take years, not months,” despite the fact that health officials have touted that the average American could be vaccinated within months.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar anticipates COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available in the second quarter of 2021.
Using the Defense Production Act would enable the president to force companies to prioritize production of the vaccines.
The U.S. government has a contract with Pfizer to procure 200 million doses and an additional 200 million doses from Moderna by July 31, 2021. The U.S. plans on procuring extra vaccine doses from AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) and others.
Pfizer has also requested that the U.S. government invoke the Defense Production Act to improve its access to roughly nine specialized raw materials needed to manufacture the vaccine, according to the New York Times. The U.S. agreed, according to the publication, which cited anonymous sources.
The Trump administration has already invoked the Defense Production Act times to beef up the production of COVID-19–related pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment.
President Trump vowed on Dec. 8 to use the law as necessary to ramp up vaccine production, according to Bloomberg.
The U.S. government enacted the Defense Production Act in 1950 in response to the Korean War.