Biden Hails Deal for 200 Million Vaccine Doses, Faster Shipments

President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. has finished deals for 100 million additional vaccine doses each from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., and that the companies would deliver new and existing orders quicker than projected.

The delivery dates for the orders, which the administration had already said it would place, were moved up to the end of July, Biden said in remarks Thursday at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland -- although Moderna said only that July was a “goal.” Delivery of a previously ordered batch was also sped up, to the end of May from the end of June, Biden said.

“We’ve now purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all Americans,” Biden said in a speech, while warning of the ongoing threat of the virus. “We remain in the teeth of this pandemic.”

The delivery timeline, if met, would give the U.S. enough doses for 300 million people by the end of July -- a number that could increase if other vaccine candidates, such as one from Johnson & Johnson, are approved. Administration of the vaccines, however, could stretch into late summer and early fall.

Biden delivered his speech at the NIH while wearing a mask, thanking medical workers and researchers for sacrifices they and their families have made during the course of the crisis. He also leveled harsh criticism of former President Donald Trump’s handling of the vaccine program.

“My predecessor, to be very blunt about it, did not do his job,” he said, accusing Trump of not purchasing enough doses of vaccine, doing nothing to set up shipments to pharmacies, not mobilizing enough health-care workers to inject it and not establishing enough sites around the country to provide inoculations.

Biden Hails Deal for 200 Million Vaccine Doses, Faster Shipments

The White House said on Jan. 26 that it planned to order 200 million more total doses of the vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer. The new orders bring the government’s total order from those companies to 600 million doses. Both vaccines require a two-dose regimen, making that enough for 300 million people.

The orders were placed by exercising options in contracts negotiated with each company by the previous administration. Specific terms of the new orders weren’t disclosed, and the administration didn’t say what, if anything, it offered the companies in exchange for faster deliveries.

In a written statement, Moderna confirmed the order and said it had already supplied 41 million doses to the U.S., and is on track to reach 100 million doses shipped by the end of March.

“Moderna is working with its domestic manufacturing partners and the U.S. FDA to continue to explore ways to accelerate delivery, with the goal of providing this new order of 100 million doses before the end of July 2021,” the company said in the statement.

Pfizer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

‘Don’t Rewrite History’

Former Trump administration officials reject Biden’s criticism, pointing out that the vaccination program Biden inherited has him easily on pace to meet his goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days. The U.S. is averaging about 1.5 million doses administered daily, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Trump “put you on a track to reach the goal of 100 Million doses in 100 days,” Alyssa Farah, a former communications director for Trump, tweeted after Biden’s remarks. “Celebrate it, don’t rewrite history.”

The Biden administration has been touting the latest order from Pfizer and Moderna since its initial announcement, saying it would give the U.S. enough vaccine by the end of summer to inoculate every adult, before Thursday’s announcement of a faster delivery schedule.

Johnson & Johnson is seeking an emergency clearance for its one-shot vaccine, and the Food and Drug Administration could grant it as soon as this month. Biden has said he would rather end up with surplus vaccine than not enough. The one-shot vaccine doesn’t require as stringent storage conditions as Moderna and Pfizer, and could be used to access remote communities more easily.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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