Amid delays in vaccinations due to inclement weather, President Joe Biden visits Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine plant.
President Joe Biden visited state-of-the-art coronavirus vaccine the plant on Friday as extreme winter conditions over large swathes of the United States postponed vaccination countryside its first major setback, delaying shipment of about six million doses.
Disturbances caused by cold temperatures, snow and ice have left the White House and states scrambling to catch up as three days of vaccine shipments have been temporarily delayed. The president’s trip to see Pfizer’s largest factory had been postponed a day due to a storm affecting the nation’s capital.
At the Michigan plant, Biden walked through an area called a “freezer farm,” which houses some 350 ultra-cold freezers, each capable of storing 360,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. Double-masked, the president stopped to speak with some of the workers.
After the tour, Biden took the time to encourage Americans to get the vaccine, especially black Americans who continue to express skepticism about the safety of the vaccine.
“We all know the story in this country of having subjected certain communities to terrible medical abuse in the past,” said Biden, probably referring to the famous “Tuskegee experiment” of the secret US government of the 1930s on 600 men. blacks that left them untreated for decades syphilis.
“But if there is one message to pass on to everyone in this country, it is this: vaccines are safe. Please, for yourself, your family, your community, this country, take the vaccine when it’s your turn and available. This is how to beat this pandemic, ”Biden said.
Biden set himself a goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his administration, and it seemed likely that could be easily accomplished before the storms.
The United States had administered an average of 1.7 million doses per day during the week ending Tuesday, but bad weather forced many injection sites to temporarily close, from Texas to Nova Scotia. England, and delayed the shipments of the necessary doses. It is not yet clear how long it will take to recover from the effects of weather delays.
The White House is encouraging states to extend the opening hours of vaccination clinics once they reopen and to reschedule rescheduled appointments quickly.
Speaking after the tour, Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said Biden had challenged the company to increase production and that he hoped to be able to double the weekly number of vaccine doses it will provide. in the United States in the coming weeks.
“We have improved our processes to double batch size and increase throughput and we have deployed more efficient laboratory testing methods to reduce release times,” Bourla said in his speech.
He said the measures allowed the company to cut the time it takes to manufacture the vaccine from 110 days to 60 days.
Bourla said Pfizer is currently sending an average of five million doses per week.
The company has agreed to deliver 300 million doses to the United States by the end of July.