WASHINGTON — The U.S. has finalized a previously announced deal with Pfizer and Moderna for 200 million more coronavirus vaccine doses, which should provide enough to vaccinate nearly every American, President Joe Biden said Thursday.
During a visit to the National Institutes of Health, Biden said the federal government signed the final contracts Thursday afternoon for 100 million more doses of the Moderna vaccine and 100 million more from Pfizer and BioNTech.
Biden said last month that he was directing the federal government to secure the additional doses on top of the 400 million ordered during the Trump administration. With the new order in place, the U.S. will have enough supply to fully vaccinate 300 million people with the two-dose vaccines, Biden said.
It remains unclear when everyone who wants vaccinations will be able to get them given the logistical challenges of administering the shots. Biden said Pfizer and Moderna were speeding production to deliver 100 million doses each by the end of May — a month sooner than initially planned. But the additional 200 million doses finalized Thursday won’t be available until the end of July.
“We’re going to be in a position where it’s not going to be by the end of the summer,” Biden told reporters during a tour of the NIH labs, adding that it’s important that people take steps to slow the spread in the interim.
A White House official said that the federal government expects to have received a total of 600 million doses by the end of summer but that it might take longer to get those doses into patients’ arms. The White House hasn’t given a timeline for vaccinations beyond its goal of 100 million shots in Biden’s first 100 days in office.
The Biden administration has been working to ramp up the supply of the vaccines and has increased distribution to the states by 28 percent since Inauguration Day. Biden said his transition team was led to believe that the slow rollout during the Trump administration was a distribution problem, not an issue with the amount of vaccines, saying, “We were under the impression that there was significantly more vaccine.”
“When I became president three weeks ago, America had no plan to vaccinate most of the country,” Biden said. “It was a big mess. It is going to take time to fix, to be blunt with you.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 33 million first doses had been administered as of Thursday and that more than 10 million people had been fully vaccinated.