Biden administration to boost vaccine supply amid shortages

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(AP) – The Biden administration is boosting purchases of coronavirus vaccines to deliver enough to protect 300 million Americans by the end of the summer, as it surges deliveries to states for the next three weeks following complaints of shortages and inconsistent supplies.

President Joe Biden announced the surge in deliveries to states Tuesday, along with the news that the federal government is purchasing an additional 100 million doses each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines.

With existing purchases, the White House expects to be able to deliver enough of the two-dose regimens to states to vaccinate 300 million people.

“This is enough vaccine to vaccinate 300 million Americans by end of summer, early fall,” Biden said, calling the push to increase supply a “wartime effort.”

The purchases from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna come as the Biden administration is trying to ramp up vaccine production and states’ capacities to inject them into arms.

Even more vaccine could be available if federal scientists approve a single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson, which is expected to seek emergency authorization in the coming weeks.

Biden also announced a roughly 16% boost in deliveries to states over the coming weeks, amid complaints of shortages so severe that some vaccination sites around the U.S. had to cancel tens of thousands of appointments with people seeking their first shot.

Detailed figures posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website Tuesday showed that the government plans to make about 10.1 million first and second doses available next week, up from this week’s allotment of 8.6 million.

The figures represent doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It was not immediately clear how long the surge of doses could be sustained.

The increase comes amid complaints from governors and top health officials about inadequate supplies and the need for earlier and more reliable estimates of how much vaccine is on the way so that they can plan accordingly.

States are notified on Tuesdays of their allocations through a computer network called Tiberius and other channels, after which they can specify where they want doses shipped.

Deliveries start the following Monday.

A similar but separate process for ordering second doses, which must be given three to four weeks after the first, begins each week on Sunday night.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC reported that just over half of the 44 million doses distributed to states have been put in people’s arms. That is well short of the hundreds of millions of doses that experts say will need to be administered to achieve herd immunity and conquer the outbreak.

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