Biden will invoke the Defense Production Act to boost America's vaccine supply, top advisor says

John Haltiwanger
Joe Biden vaccine
President-elect Joe Biden receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. Carolyn Kaster/AP
  • President-elect Joe Biden will invoke a wartime production law, the Defense Production Act, to boost the production of vaccines after he's sworn-in. 

  • "You will see him invoking the Defense Production Act," Dr. Celine Gounder, who's on Biden's COVID-19 advisory board, told CNBC on Monday

  • The DPA gives the president broad authority to pressure US industries to produce supplies in the interest of national defense. 

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President-elect Joe Biden will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) after he's inaugurated to increase the production of vaccines, according to a top advisor on his COVID-19 team. 

"You will see him invoking the Defense Production Act," Dr. Celine Gounder, who's on Biden's COVID-19 advisory board, told CNBC on Monday. "The idea there is to make sure the personal protective equipment, the test capacity and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply."

The DPA is a Korean War-era law that gives the president broad authority to compel US industries to produce supplies in the interest of national defense. 

Last week, NBC News reported that Biden and aides were discussing the possibility of invoking the DPA to increase vaccine production.

President Donald Trump invoked the DPA to boost testing for the virus, and earlier this month suggested he might use it again for vaccines. 

"If necessary...we'll invoke the Defense Production Act, but we don't think it will be necessary. If it is, it's a very powerful act, as you know, because we've used it very, very successfully," Trump said at the time.

The US government has purchased 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Moderna and Pfizer, which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as part of Operation Warp Speed. Both vaccines are two doses and are to be distributed to Americans at zero cost. Hundreds of millions of vaccine doses from other companies, which have not yet been authorized by the FDA, have also been secured.  

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar last week said the government will "have enough supply to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021."

Nearly 2 million vaccine doses have been administered in the US so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's tracker.

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