Biden Plans To Use Defense Production Act To Speed Up Vaccine Distribution

by Christina Marfice
Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post/Getty

After criticizing the Trump Administration’s vaccine rollout, Joe Biden is promising to use his presidential powers to create a better system

COVID-19 vaccines are here, and the first Americans have begun to receive them. However, despite promises from the Trump Administration that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by year’s end, only 2.1 million have received a shot out of just over 11 million doses that have been distributed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a speech from Delaware, President-Elect Joe Biden criticized the slow start the the vaccine program in the U.S., and vowed to use his powers as president to create a better system to produce and distribute vaccines.

“As I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should,” Biden said during live remarks filmed from his home state of Delaware. He added that at the current pace, “it’s going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”

Biden also said that he will use his power under the Defense Production Act to mobilize private companies to create materials for vaccines and personal protective gear, better positioning the U.S. for a strong, coordinated vaccination program. He said he plans to launch a public education campaign that will encourage all Americans to get the shot, and that he will work with Congress on passing another aid package in early 2021.

“We’re going to get through this,” he said. “Brighter days are coming, but it’s going to take all the grit and determination we have as Americans to get it done.”

There are still three weeks before Biden takes office, and a lot could happen in that time. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. appear to be leveling off, but experts warn that that could just be an effect of underreporting during the holidays, and to brace for winter months that are likely to bring soaring case counts and deaths.

“We need to be honest,” Biden said during his remarks from Delaware. “The next few weeks and months are going to be very tough, a very tough period for our nation, maybe the toughest during this entire pandemic. I know it’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.”

Biden has repeatedly warned that the pandemic in the U.S. is likely to get worse before it gets better, even with vaccines arriving. During his first 100 days in office, he has promised to do everything he can to mandate mask wearing, though he’s likely to face significant challenges in the courts.

“It’s not a political statement, it’s a patriotic duty,” he said.