By Trevor Hunnicutt, Steve Holland, Carl O’Donnell, and Joseph Ax, Reuters
The Biden administration will purchase 200 million more coronavirus vaccines and funnel more to states now, in a bid to deliver on the U.S. president’s promise to curb the pandemic, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.
Biden, who took office last week, is in a race to contain the virus as faster-spreading variants threaten to increase the death toll across the United States, which has already been hard-hit.
The administration is briefing state governors on Tuesday about its plans to increase the amount of the vaccine going to those local governments to 10 million doses per week for the next three weeks, up from 8.6 million currently, according to the official who declined to be named, who previewed a policy the president has not yet discussed.
The administration will purchase 100 million doses each of the vaccines made by Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc, increasing the overall total doses to 600 million, with delivery expected by summer. Each vaccine requires two doses per person to be fully effective, suggesting the new purchases would cover most of the country’s 331 million people.
The administration also promised to provide notice to the states three weeks in advance of how much vaccine they would be getting in the future.
Biden made management of the pandemic a core issue in his presidential election campaign, but in its early days, the administration has sent mixed messages about when exactly the vaccines will be fully administered.
On Monday, Biden said he believed it was possible to have 150 million doses of the vaccine administered in his first 100 days in office, an aspiration his press secretary Jen Psaki said was not an official adjustment of the current target of 100 million doses over that same time period.
“The president and his team have been working around the clock over the past six days to make meaningful progress on vaccinating as many people as possible,” she said.