US to invest billions in manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine

Investment aims to produce at least one billion doses a year for worldwide distribution

With the new measure, President Joe Biden is answering call from activists to increase the global supply of Covid-19 vaccines. AP
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The US is planning to invest billions of dollars in manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine with the aim of producing at least one billion doses a year beginning in the second half of 2022.

Wednesday's expected announcement, first reported by The New York Times, comes as the administration of US President Joe Biden faces pressure from activists to increase vaccine distribution to poorer countries.

The investment in vaccine production is part of a private-public partnership to address vaccine needs at home and around the world as well as to prepare for future pandemics, Dr David Kessler, who oversees vaccine distribution, and White House coronavirus response co-ordinator Jeff Zients told The New York Times.

“The goal, in the case of a future pandemic, a future virus, is to have vaccine capability within six to nine months of identification of that pandemic pathogen, and to have enough vaccines for all Americans,” Dr Kessler said.

The price tag for the public-private partnership is still unknown, but Dr Kessler expects it to cost several billion dollars.

The plan will be paired with funds from the $1.9 trillion relief package that Mr Biden signed in March.

“This is about assuring expanded capacity against Covid variants and also preparing for the next pandemic,” Dr Kessler added.

Activists have been urging the Biden administration to expand manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines for distribution worldwide.

Domestically, the Biden administration has sought to ramp up its supply of booster shots, despite calls from the World Health Organisation and others that it should instead focus on supplying vaccines to lower-income countries.

The US Food and Drug Administration could approve Pfizer's booster shot for all US adults this week, The New York Times reported.

To date, 15 per cent of fully vaccinated people in the US have received a booster shot, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: November 17, 2021, 7:08 PM