During Friday’s press briefing, the White House COVID-19 Response Team discussed three specific actions the Biden administration plans to take under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to invigorate its response to COVID-19. First, the Biden administration will invoke the DPA to help Pfizer ramp up COVID-19 vaccine production. Specifically, Tim Manning, supply chain coordinator for the COVID-19 Response Team, said “priority ratings” will be employed to ensure Pfizer receives the supplies and materials necessary to manufacture its vaccine. “If the federal government puts a priority rating on a contract it means that company can, say a vaccine manufacturer, get first access to the product they need before anyone else,” Manning said. Manning indicated that priority ratings could be placed on Pfizer’s contracts for filling pumps and tangential flow filtration skid units, which are vital components to production of the Pfizer vaccine.
Second, the Biden administration will invest in various suppliers of point of care and at-home COVID-19 tests. The White House is negotiating contracts with six companies to increase the U.S. supply of at-home and point of care COVID-19 tests, which should push nearly 60 million tests to the market by the end of this summer. According to Manning, the Biden administration will “help industry partners construct new plants and build new production lines here in the United States” to ensure that disruptions in the supply chain are limited. White House officials previously announced on Monday that production of at-home COVID-19 tests would be stimulated by an agreement with Ellume, who agreed to supply nearly 8.5 million tests by the end of the year.
Lastly, Manning said the administration will invoke the DPA to increase the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as masks and surgical gloves. Manning indicated that the administration was concerned about current supplies of surgical gloves in the U.S. Accordingly, the administration will “help build plants to make the raw materials” for surgical gloves and “will help build factories to make those gloves right here in the U.S.” Manning said that he hoped half of all U.S. health care demand for surgical gloves would be satisfied with gloves made in the U.S. by the end of the year.
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