The Biden administration plans to devote billions of dollars to expanding vaccine manufacturing in the United States to produce at least one billion doses each year, with the aim of bolstering the global supply of Covid-19 to the most vulnerable countries. poorer while anticipating future pandemics.

As part of a public-private partnership, the government will build on the knowledge of companies that already use mRNA technology to manufacture vaccines. Its ambitious goal is to reach a point where the United States can produce at least one billion doses each year by mid-2022, according to the New York Times, who first reported the news.

“This is to ensure increased capacity against variants of Covid and also to prepare for the next pandemic”, David kessler, who heads vaccine distribution for the White House, told The Times.

“The goal, in the event of a future pandemic, of a future virus, is to have vaccine capacity within six to nine months of the identification of this pandemic pathogen, and to have sufficient vaccines for all Americans. “

A billion vaccines could also increase availability globally, tackling the glaring inequalities that have so far plagued the Covid-19 vaccination campaigns.

“This effort is specifically aimed at strengthening the national capabilities of the United States,” Kessler said. “But this capacity is important not only for the US supply, but also for the global supply.”

The initiative – which Kessler says will likely cost several billion dollars – relies on funding for the $ 1.9 billion US bailout, a pandemic relief that was enacted earlier this year. In the United States, about 59% of eligible people are fully immunized, and nearly 16% have received booster shots.

The White House said on Wednesday that about 10% of eligible children aged five to 11 have received a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine since it was approved for their age group two weeks ago. That equates to at least 2.6 million children, said Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 coordinator. The vaccination rate for this age group over the past week is more than three times faster than the adult vaccination rate at the start of the country’s vaccination campaign 11 months ago.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to expand recall eligibility to all adults in the coming days, giving Americans extra protection during the holiday season.

But many citizens of the world do not yet have access to a single injection, let alone a full dose or a booster. In Africa, for example, only 6% of the population has been fully immunized, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in late October.

These gaping disparities have prompted world health leaders to take action, urging policymakers to look at the big picture instead of focusing only on national security.

“In the context of current global vaccine supply constraints, large-scale booster dose administration risks exacerbating inequalities in vaccine access by increasing demand and diverting supply then that priority populations in some countries, or in sub-national contexts, have not yet received a primary immunization. series, ”the WHO said in a statement.

In response to these criticisms, Joe Biden’s administration pledged to donate more than a billion vaccines abroad, a slow process.

“I made – and I keep – the promise that America will become the arsenal of vaccines like we were the arsenal of democracy during World War II,” the president said. said at a Covid-19 summit in September.

“To put it another way: for every injection we gave today in America, we have now committed to giving three injections to the rest of the world.”

Yet critics have warned that the administration’s overseas commitments lack the urgency demanded by a deadly virus. It remains to be seen whether its new plan to increase manufacturing capacity will substantially address these concerns.

“Buying doses for a donation next year is useful, but it does not significantly increase the global supply,” Peter Maybarduk, who works for the nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, previously told The Times. “And that’s not justice.”

Associated Press contributed to this report