President Joe Biden announced plans to purchase an additional 100 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, giving the country enough supply to vaccinate its entire population.
“I am doing this because, in this wartime effort, we need maximum flexibility. There’s always a chance that we’ll encounter unexpected challenges, or there will be a new need for vaccine effort,” Biden said during a meeting with executives from pharmaceutical companies J&J and Merck.
“A lot can happen, a lot can change, and we need to be prepared.”
Biden said this month that the U.S. was on track to have enough vaccine doses for all adults in the country to get vaccinated by the end of May after the FDA gave clearance for using the J&J vaccine. White House senior adviser on Covid’s response Andy Slavitt said it was too early to tell when the additional doses would become available.
“This order allows for the president to plan for the future and the latter part of the year,” said Slavitt. “This is wartime, and as facts still emerge, it gives us maximum flexibility for our upcoming needs.”
The U.S. had already secured deals for enough vaccine doses for every adult as of last month when the country finalized an agreement with Pfizer and Moderna for 200 million more coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of July.
However, the additional 100 million J&J doses could help serve as a backstop should Pfizer or Moderna run into manufacturing issues.
Biden said that if the U.S. ends up with a surplus of vaccines, he would “share it with the rest of the world.”
“This is not something that can be stopped by a fence,” he said. “We will ultimately not be safe until the world is safe.”