The Biden administration on Tuesday announced that the federal government intends to purchase 200 million additional doses of two federally approved COVID-19 vaccines, potentially creating a stock large enough to reach nearly the entire U.S. population. ?
The U.S. has already purchased 400 million shots from manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, both of which use a novel mRNA vaccine that has proven highly effective in trials but that also requires two doses, spaced weeks apart. With the extra shots that the Biden administration intends to purchase, there would, in theory, be enough to vaccinate 300 million people fully against the coronavirus ? more than enough, according to most experts, to achieve “herd immunity.”
Just how far along discussions with the two manufacturers have gone is not clear. A background briefing paper for reporters said that the administration is “working to purchase” more vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. It did not indicate whether the two companies have the capacity to deliver the extra quantities.
It’s entirely possible they do. The discovery that vials contain enough extra liquid for extra doses means that the companies can produce their vaccines at a quicker rate than they initially anticipated. Pfizer’s chief executive officer said on Tuesday that the company would be able to deliver its initial shipment of 200 million doses by the end of May ? two months ahead of schedule.
With the additional doses, administration officials said, the supply should be adequate to vaccinate nearly the entire population by the end of summer.
And that does not even account for the possibility of extra doses from additional vaccine manufacturers, starting with Johnson & Johnson, which has developed a single-dose vaccine that has shown promising results in early trials.
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