Virginia was today the third state to report a case of a variant first found in South Africa that spreads faster than previous versions of the virus and makes vaccines less effective.
“Viruses won’t evolve and mutate unless you give them an open playing field to replicate and replicate in essentially unrestrained ways,” said Anthony Fauci, the government’s senior infectious disease expert, at a Covid-19 briefing Friday in the White House.
The Biden team spent its first few weeks in office trying to get a grip on the country’s chaotic vaccine rollout, finding ways to increase the nation’s limited supply of shots, and developing a strategy to counter the threat to encounter new variants.
The announcements on Friday represent the most detailed look yet at how the administration intends to deploy the data protection agency, allowing the government to place priority orders with manufacturers.
Biden’s team plans to sign DPA contracts with six diagnostic companies in the coming weeks to increase the availability of tests that Americans can use at home. The contracts will take a few more weeks to close, said Tim Manning, the president’s coronavirus supply chain coordinator, who refused to name the companies that will run the tests.
The administration also endeavors to ensure the supply of the country with critical personal protective equipment such as B. surgical gloves, which are in short supply, to improve. The government plans to expand domestic manufacturing of the gloves in the US by building raw material and glove manufacturing facilities itself. Manning estimated that about 1 billion nitrile gloves could be made a month by the end of the year.
And the White House is using the Data Protection Agency to give Pfizer priority access to two components it needs to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine. Manning said. The company and its German partner BioNTech manufacture one of two vaccines that are approved for use in the United States.
Production issues have clouded hopes that Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine, currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration, could boost supply on the short team. The agency is expected to approve use of the shot later this month, but initial inventory levels will be lower than the White House hopes, said Andy Slavitt, a senior advisor on Biden’s Covid-19 response team.
“As with other vaccines, we have not found that the level of manufacture allows us to have as much vaccine as we think is necessary,” said Slavitt. He refused to deliver Instead, details of certain actions that could be taken: “Each option is on the table to see how manufacturing can be expedited if the FDA approves the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”
To date, states have received about 57 million coronavirus shots, although federal data shows only about 35 million have been administered. Part of this gap is likely due to delays in reporting vaccinations. However, federal and state officials have also urged health care providers not to keep the second doses in reserve, as vaccine deliveries are more predictable than in the first few weeks of the state’s vaccination campaign.