The government will help Pfizer increase production capacity

Earlier, the company said that it had asked to ease some restrictions on deliveries.

The US authorities are working with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to help it maximize production capacity for the vaccine against COVID-19 in connection with the possible occurrence of some production difficulties, the Minister of Health and Social Security Alex Azar told reporters.

The company itself has not yet commented, but its CEO, Albert Bourla, told CNBC earlier this week that the company asks the US government to use the Defense Production Act to ease some “critical supply restrictions,” especially about certain components. He gave no further details.

Officials did not say what kind of production problems the company was facing. They said they were familiar with the manufacturing materials and equipment needed to produce vaccines, based on their experience working with other drug manufacturers.

“Recently, they finally informed us about the various problems that may arise in manufacturing, and we are putting in place any necessary mechanisms to help them produce products for the American people,” Azar said.

Ugur Shahin, chief executive of Pfizer’s partner BioNTech, told Reuters last week that the previously announced production volume of 100 million doses in 2020 was halved, partly due to problems with the supply of raw materials. According to him, the problems were subsequently resolved, and production began on a large scale.

The US government is actively negotiating with Pfizer to provide 100 million additional doses, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to operation supersonic speed, told reporters. Previously, an option contract was signed with Pfizer to purchase up to 500 million additional doses at an unspecified price.

On Wednesday, the government said the United States has already agreed to deliver 300 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the coming months. In total, it is planned to purchase 900 million doses of vaccines from different manufacturers.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to receive regulatory approval as early as Friday.

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