WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden administration announced it plans to use the Defense Production Act to assist in the battle against coronavirus.
It’s not the first time it’s been used during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Defense Production Act was also used by the Trump administration early in the pandemic to increase the production of ventilators.
During a Friday press conference, the White House COVID Response Team revealed details about how the act will be used to aid in three key areas.
The top priority is helping companies maximize production of the vaccines.
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“One of the factors constraining manufacturing of vaccines is limited equipment and ingredients,” said team supply coordinator Tim Manning.
He said the Defense Production Act will be used to prioritize getting critical supplies for Pfizer, including more filling pumps.
“It’s actions like these that will allow Pfizer to ramp up production and hit their targets of delivering hundreds of millions of doses over the coming months,” Manning said.
The act will also be used to help six suppliers make at-home and point-of-care COVID tests.
“The country is well behind where we need to be in testing,” Manning said. “Particularly the rapid at-home test that will allow us all to get back to normal activities like work and school.”
The White House COVID Response Team expects 61 million at-home tests will be available by the end of summer.
The third focus will be boosting the production of masks, face shields and gloves made in the U.S.
“We just don’t have enough gloves. We’re nearly 100% reliant on overseas manufacturers to export to us our country’s surgical gloves that protect health care workers. That’s unacceptable and we’re using all of our authorities to fix it,” Manning said. “We will build plants to make the raw materials, the nitro butyl rubber for surgical gloves here in the United States. And we’ll help build factories to make those gloves right here in the U.S. as well.”
By the end of 2021, the goal is to be able to produce 1 billion gloves in a month in the U.S. -- enough to meet the needs of half of U.S. health care facilities.