We've been talking a lot about how there is the demand for the vaccine but the supply isn't really there. How many additional doses does the Biden administration plan to purchase?
Well, it's in the process of buying another 200 million doses, Alex, and it wants to split those doses evenly between each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer and president idea is that these additional doses plus the 400 million doses the trump administration previously purchased will be enough shots to vaccinate 300 million Americans by either the end of summer or early fall.
It's one thing to announce these plans to purchase more doses but can these drugmakers feasibly make that late summer deadline under their current production schedules?
Well, it really depends on who you are listening to. Pfizer and Modern each say that they're on track to meet their production deadlines. But a recent analysis from NPR says both drugmakers will need to almost double their current pace of production in order for that to happen. Moderna and Pfizer have each promised to deliver 100 million doses to the U.S. By the end of March. Now, NPR says each has been delivering an average of 4.3 million doses a week. But those weekly shipments will need to increase to at least 7.5 million doses if they want to make that March deadline. Now, in terms of just making the vaccine, it takes multiple weeks to go from raw materials to a finished product. Not only is the mrna used in the vaccine incredibly fragile and can be inactivated in the production process, equipment can break down, batches might not pass quality control. There could be shortages of ingredients. So in order for these accelerated deadlines to work these drugmakers really need every step of the process to go smoothly. Especially because they not only need to meet the U.S. Demand, but they also have to fulfill obligations they have made to other countries.