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White House seeks to boost Covid vaccine manufacturing by 1B doses a year

The Biden administration is offering to partner with Covid-19 vaccine makers on expanding their U.S. manufacturing capacity as part of an emerging plan to produce an additional 1 billion doses per year, an administration official said Wednesday.

The new initiative is aimed at ramping up the vaccine supply needed abroad and comes as officials have sought new ways to make good on President Joe Biden’s pledge to get 70 percent of the world’s population vaccinated by next September.

The administration is also hoping that the partnerships could serve as a model for accelerating drug production in response to future health crises.

“In the short term, this would make a significant amount of Covid-19 vaccine doses available at cost for global use,” the administration official said. “In the long term, it would help establish sustained domestic manufacturing capacity to rapidly produce vaccines for future threats.”

The U.S. has pledged to donate at least 1.1 billion doses to foreign countries and encouraged other wealthy countries to make similar commitments. Yet the global vaccination campaign is still well behind schedule, with many poorer nations still struggling to get access to first doses.

The administration has not yet said how much it’s willing to invest in expanding companies’ manufacturing, and it’s unclear how many drugmakers will take the government up on its offer.

U.S. officials are specifically seeking partnerships with companies that make mRNA vaccines, such as those produced by Pfizer and Moderna, the administration official said.

Moderna in particular has resisted allocating more of its vaccine supply to low-income countries, citing its limited manufacturing capabilities and preexisting commitments to the U.S. and other affluent nations.

The company is instead close to finalizing a deal with global vaccine equity initiative COVAX to pledge more doses for the developing world that would be delivered throughout 2022, POLITICO first reported earlier this week.

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