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The Biden administration will invest billions of dollars to boost vaccine manufacturing in the United States — a move that will increase the number of doses shipped abroad and help prepare for future pandemics, the White House said Wednesday.
“[The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] is soliciting interest from companies who have expressed interest in manufacturing mRNA vaccines,” said White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients during a briefing, referring to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. “The goal of this program is to expand existing capacity by an additional billion doses per year, with production starting by the second half of 2022.”
He added, “We hope companies step up and act quickly.”
The effort will be a partnership between the U.S. government and pharmaceutical companies. It will be funded using part of the as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
HHS will issue a request to private companies with the hope of getting feedback within 30 days.
The announcement is in line with President Joe Biden’s commitment to supply poorer nations with more vaccine doses. As of Wednesday, the U.S. has donated 250 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 110 countries.
“This is for free, with no strings attached,” Zients said. “This is a remarkable achievement.”
Meanwhile, domestic vaccination rates continue to increase. An estimated 2.6 million children ages 5-11 have gotten their first COVID-19 shot — about 10% of eligible kids. For comparison, Zients said, it took 50 days to reach 10% of eligible adults, and in the 1950s in took 3 months for 2 million children to receive the polio vaccine.
However, there is still a strong presence of misinformation plaguing social media, which officials are working to combat.
For example, many people from the anti-vaccine camp are alleging that the COVID-19 shots are ineffective because there are still breakthrough cases.
But infectious disease czar Anthony S. Fauci, MD, reiterated that no vaccine is 100% effective, citing data showing strong protection from COVID-19 shots. In Texas, for example, the unvaccinated were 13 times more likely to be infected and 20 times more likely to die from Sept. 4 to Oct. 1.
“The data that I show you do not lie; vaccines protect you, your family and your community,” Fauci said. “It’s not too late, get vaccinated now.”
News briefing, White House COVID-19 Response Team, Nov. 17, 2021.
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