A health worker holds a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine bottle on the first day Orange County residents 65 and older can be vaccinated on December 29, 2020 at a drive through at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
Paul Hennessy | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Moderna is increasing its Covid-19 vaccine production this year, increasing the expected minimum dose by 20% to 600 million, the company said on Monday.
The company says it is working to produce up to 1 billion doses of its Covid vaccine this year. The U.S. is well on its way to securing 100 million shots of Moderna’s vaccine by the end of March and an additional 100 million by June, the Massachusetts-based company said in a statement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Moderna’s emergency coronavirus vaccine approval to anyone age 18 and older in the U.S. in December and started the drug’s first launch.
The federal government has agreed to buy 200 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, with an option to secure an additional 300 million, the company said.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, which uses the new mRNA technology and requires two doses four weeks apart, has also been approved in Canada for people aged 18 and over. The company has agreed to supply this country with 40 million doses of its vaccine, with the option to provide an additional 16 million.
“Our effectiveness in delivering early supplies to the US and Canadian governments, as well as our ability to increase baseline production estimates for 2021, are both signals that our increase in mRNA vaccine production is a success,” said Juan Andres, director made a statement to Moderna’s technical department.
The U.S. government, under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, said it would distribute close to 6 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine in an emergency once FDA approved.
The introduction of the vaccine in the nation has been slower than originally planned. So far, the US has only distributed more than 13 million doses of vaccine, but given only 4.2 million “shots in the arms,” according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last updated on Saturday. By the end of December, officials wanted to vaccinate 20 million people with Pfizers and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines against Covid-19.
Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar defended the operation’s vaccine distribution Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America. He said there was a delay in getting the cans first made available, ordered by the states, and then delivered, all of which was slowed down by the holidays.
However, the US has seen a “rapid uptake” of vaccines in the past few days, Azar said.
“We said our goal is to actually have 20 million first doses available by December. Those are available,” said Azar. It is unclear what Azar meant when he said the cans were “available” as only 13 million were distributed in the US on Saturday morning.