“This is enough vaccine to fully vaccinate 300 [million] Americans by end of the summer, beginning of the fall,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday when making the announcement.
Already the federal government has received a commitment of 400 million doses between Pfizer and Moderna. The additional purchase from the two companies, which the country will receive by the summer, would bring the federal government’s total stockpile to 600 million doses. Since each vaccine requires two doses, that means 300 million Americans could potentially access the jab in the summer months.
“The end goal is to beat Covid-19, and the way we do that is to get more people vaccinated,” Mr Biden said. "Which means we have to be ready after we hit the goal of 100 million shots in 100 days."
“By the end of the summer, I hope that you have too much vaccine left over, that you have too much equipment left over … I hope that becomes the problem,” he added.
A mass-vaccination campaign was underway in the United States in an effort to respond to the global pandemic. But one point of issue since the beginning was how quickly the country would be able to manufacture, distribute, and administer the vaccines.
The federal government has distributed more than 44.3 million Covid-19 vaccines to states, but only 23.5 vaccines have been administered, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means about 50 per cent of the vaccines currently available are not being used.
Why about half of the vaccines remain unused was unclear, but some vaccination sites across the US were reportedly holding onto portions of their supply so people could receive their second doses.
State officials have complained they were running out of vaccine supplies and would need more doses sent each week by the federal government to keep up with demand.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters on Monday that the state was “at the mercy of what the federal government sends us", adding they couldn’t meet the current demand from residents. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the cancellation of appointments last week because of vaccine dose shortages.
Similar issues were seen in other areas across the country.
Jeffrey Zients, the co-ordinator of the president's Covid-19 task force, told state governors on a phone call on Tuesday that the federal government would be sending about 15 per cent more doses to states next week.
Detailed figures posted on the CDC website on Tuesday revealed that the government intended to ship about 10.1 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines next week, which was up from the 8.6 million allotment during weeks prior.
Mr Biden confirmed that the federal government would be sending more doses to states each week and improving transparency with local officials about how many doses they could expect each week.
“We will both increase the supply in the short term by more than 15 per cent and give our states and local partners more certainty about when the deliveries will arrive,” he said.
The Department of Health and Human Services will now provide allocation estimates for the upcoming three weeks as opposed to one week ahead for states. This was so states could better determine their vaccine stockpile and how many appointments they could make available to residents.
The Biden administration has also invoked the Defence Production Act to boost up the manufacturing of vaccine supplies, tasting equipment, and PPE.