The United States plans to invest billions of dollars in expanding COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity and make available an additional one billion doses per year, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said on Wednesday.
Activists have pressured President Joe Biden
's administration to increase vaccine
supply to poorer countries.
Zients said the government was preparing to offer makers of the mRNA vaccines
substantial help to expand infrastructure and capacity, including facilities, equipment, staff or training.
and Moderna are the only makers of mRNA vaccines
, though Zients said subcontractors of those companies would also be included.
Production will start in the second half of 2022, he said.
The investment in vaccine
production is part of a private-public partnership to address vaccine
needs at home and around the world and to prepare for future pandemics, he said. It will be paid for with funds from the American Rescue Plan Biden signed into law in March.
In the short term, the program would make a significant amount of COVID
doses available at cost for global use. In the long term, it would help establish sustained domestic manufacturing capacity to rapidly produce vaccines
for future threats, Zients said.
Zients said 80% of Americans 12 and older have received at least one COVID
dose, highlighting a milestone in efforts to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
He also said 2.6 million kids aged 5-11 will have received their first shot of the COVID
by the end of Wednesday.