US readies billions to boost COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity: NYT

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The reported plan comes as the White Houses faces pressure to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity overseas. (WH.gov)

The COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing push is far from over. Just ask the Biden administration, which is reportedly looking to spend billions to churn out as many shot doses as possible next year. 

The White House is ready to shell out billions to expand domestic manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines, The New York Times reports, citing two of President Joe Biden's top advisers. 

The outlay marks the first step in a new plan to be unveiled Wednesday, the Times reports. Under the strategy, the government plans to team up with the industry to tackle variant concerns at home and abroad, as well as to prepare for future pandemics, coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients and David Kessler, M.D., who spearheads vaccine distribution for the administration, told the newspaper. 

The manufacturing plan is still in its early stages, The Times said. It remains unclear how much the White House plans to spend, but the partnership could ultimately be worth "several billion," Kessler told the newspaper. Money for the plan has already been earmarked as part of the American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed into law earlier this year. 

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While many of the specifics still need to be ironed out, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) plans to send out a "request for information" to collect ideas from companies with mRNA vaccine manufacturing know-how, The Times reports.

Officials are hungry for quick responses. Zients told the paper they're looking for feedback "in a very short period of time, 30 days, to understand how most efficiently, effectively and reliably we can increase manufacturing," he said. 

The manufacturing investment is "specifically aimed at building U.S. domestic capacity," Kessler said, according to NYT. The capacity would be "important not only for the U.S. supply but for global supply," he added.

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The reported plan coincides with mounting pressure on the White House to increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries. Specifically, some veteran activists from the AIDS epidemic have called upon Biden to do more to ratchet up global production capacity for the shots, The Times says. 

Meanwhile, many vaccinated adults in the U.S. are now receiving booster shots. This has drawn the ire of the World Health Organization and other health experts, who say those doses should be prioritized for low- and middle-income countries.