Biden to Boost COVID-19 Vaccine Supply by 200M, Streamline Distribution to States

President Joe Biden's administration is working to boost the nation's COVID-19 vaccine supply by 200 million additional shots—from 400 million to 600 million—as it sets out to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.

"We're gonna do everything we can to get it done, but a lot of things can go wrong along the way," Biden told reporters Tuesday. "It's no secret that we've recently discovered in the final days of the transition, that once we arrived, the vaccine program was in worse shape than we anticipated."

With the additional doses, which are not in hand but have been procured for delivery in the coming months, the Biden administration expects to have enough doses to fully vaccinate 300 million people in the U.S. by the end of this summer.

"We will obviously do everything we can to accelerate and assist the manufacturers in accelerating the development as quick as possible," a senior administration official told Newsweek and other reporters ahead of the formal announcement.

About 23.5 million vaccine doses—two shots are typically needed for full inoculation—have been administered in the United States to date. Of that, about 3.4 million people have gotten both doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden, who vowed on the campaign trail that he would make sure 100 million shots are administered in his first 100 days in office, this week indicated that has become a floor, as vaccinations have ramped up.

Part of the revamped vaccination plan unveiled Tuesday includes increasing the weekly vaccine supply the federal government distributes to states, tribes and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses. The administration also is aiming to give states a clearer outlook of how much vaccine they can expect three weeks out, after several governors voiced concern that the amounts they received had been inconsistent. Vaccines are distributed to states based on population.

"We've heard over and over again from Democrats and Republicans that they need to know what to plan on, what the order will be," Biden said. "Until now we've had to guess how much vaccine to expect for the next week—that's what the governors had to do, 'How much am I getting next week?' This is unacceptable."

More than 421,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19 complications, as cases have continued to surge across the country this winter.

In his first full-day in office on Thursday, Biden signed executive orders meant to address a worse-than-expected vaccine shortage, pledging to cut red tape to increase supply.

"I hope you're telling me by the end of the summer, that we have too much vaccine," Biden said. "I hope that becomes the problem."

Biden's administration is working to set up federally-funded mobile vaccination units and vaccine-dedicated centers in communities.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters shortly after Biden's swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday that the pandemic response would be the former vice president's top priority as he settles into his new role.

"This is the issue he wakes up every day focused on—the issue he goes to bed every night focused on—getting the pandemic under control," she said.

Biden's administration is planning regular public addresses on the coronavirus response. The first will be held Wednesday.

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks on racial equity before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty