President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced the federal government will buy 100 million more Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
“There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of this past year, but we cannot let our guard down now or assume victory is inevitable. Together we’re going to get through this pandemic and usher in a healthier and more hopeful future,” Biden said at a White House event alongside the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck. Merck is helping manufacture the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Along with about 600 million vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, the United States is expected to have more than enough doses of the vaccine for the eligible population, said Biden.
“We need maximum flexibility. There’s always a chance we’ll encounter unexpected challenges,” Biden said, adding: “If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world.”
The Johnson & Johnson shot requires a single dose, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use last month.
“We still don’t know which vaccine will be most effective on kids,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said to reporters. “We still don’t know the impact of variants or the need for booster shots. And these doses can be used for booster shots as well as needed. Obviously, that’s still being studied by the FDA but again we want to be over-prepared as I noted earlier.”
Biden said the United States may ultimately assist other countries with CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine distribution if there are more than needed.
“This is not something that can be stopped by a fence—no matter how high you build a fence or a wall. So we’re not going to be ultimately safe until the world is safe,” he said. “And so we’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first. But we’re then going to try to help the rest of the world.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 19 percent of the American population has received at least one vaccine dose, and around 10 percent are fully vaccinated.
Biden, meanwhile, is expected to deliver a primetime address on Thursday about the pandemic response—his first address since taking office nearly two months ago.