President Joe Biden said that the United States is now looking to have enough vaccine supply for every adult by the end of May, a milestone he said is achievable after two large pharmaceutical companies made a move to collaborate on the latest COVID-19 vaccine.
"This is the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War Two," he said, later thanking the two companies for "stepping up and being good corporate citizens during this national crisis."
Biden said this administration has also invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to help equip two facilities under Merck to make the J&J vaccine. Meanwhile, with the "urging and assistance" of the administration, Johnson & Johnson is acting to accelerate its vaccine production and its facilities will begin to operate 24/7 to make the vaccines, Biden added.
"In addition, we’ll continue to use the Defense Production Act to expedite critical materials in vaccine production, such as equipment, machinery, and supplies," he said. "I’ve also asked the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts."
"Here’s what all this means: We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May," Biden said—an improvement from three weeks ago when the administration projected that it could be achieved by the end of July.
"That’s progress—important progress," the president said. "But it’s not enough to have the vaccine supply. We need vaccinators—people to put the shots in people’s arms, millions of Americans’ arms."
More than 1,500 federal medical personnel have been deployed to assist in the effort to vaccinate the nation, Biden noted in his remarks, adding that millions of vaccines have been sent to more than 7,000 pharmacies nationwide. The federal government is working with states to set up hundreds of mass vaccination centers to enable thousands of people to get vaccinated on the daily, he added.
"I want to be very clear: Not every educator will be able to get their appointment in the first week, but our goal is to do everything we can to help every educator receive a shot this month, the month of March."
When asked about when things will get back to normal, Biden said, "I’ve been cautioned not to give an answer to that because we don’t know for sure. But my hope is, by this time next year, we’re going to be back to normal."
The president's announcement comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ended his state's mask mandate while allowing all businesses there to fully reopen. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced similar lifts on restrictions hours later.