Americans are dying of covid-19 by the thousands, but efforts to ramp up production of potentially lifesaving vaccines are hitting a brick wall.
Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are running their factories full tilt and are under enormous pressure to expand production or collaborate with other drug companies to set up additional assembly lines. That pressure is only growing as new viral variants of the virus threaten to launch the country into a deadlier phase of the pandemic.
President Joe Biden has said he plans to invoke the Cold War-era authority of the Defense Production Act to provide more vaccines to millions of Americans. Consumer advocates — who had called for Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act more aggressively as president — are now asking Biden to do the same.
But even forcing companies to gear up production won’t provide much-needed doses anytime soon. Expanding production lines takes time. Establishing lines in repurposed facilities can take months.
“The big problem is that even if you can get the raw material and get the infrastructure set up, how do you get a company that is already producing at maximum capacity to go beyond that maximum capacity?” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University.
— Jonathan Cohn (@CitizenCohn) January 26, 2021