“Without urgent action by this Congress this month to put sufficient resources into vaccine distribution and manufacturing – which the bipartisan group is working on – there is a real chance that after an early round of vaccinations the effort will slow and stall,” Biden said on Wednesday (AEDT).
“Let me repeat: we need Congress to finish the bipartisan work underway now or millions of Americans may wait months longer to get the vaccine – months longer than they otherwise may have to wait to get the vaccination.”
Biden said the difficulty of distributing the vaccine to over 300 million Americans should not be underestimated.
“Developing the vaccine is only one Herculean task, distributing it is another Herculean task,” Biden said.
“This will be one of the hardest and most costly operational challenges in our nation’s history.
“We’re going to need Congress to fully fund vaccine distribution to all corners of the country – to everyone.”
Biden’s warning came as a former head of the US Food and Drug Administration confirmed media reports that the Trump Administration had declined to secure millions of additional doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccines when it had the chance.
Scott Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer’s board of directors, said that the White House declined “multiple” offers from Pfizer to strike a deal on more vaccines for the second quarter of 2021.
“Pfizer did offer an additional allotment coming out of that plan, basically the second quarter allotment, to the United States government multiple times – and as recently as after the interim data came out and we knew this vaccine looked to be effective,” Gottlieb told CNBC.
“I think that the government made a bet that they are going to option or advance purchase vaccines from multiple manufacturers.
“They have agreements now with five or six manufacturers for about 100 million doses [from] each manufacturer. They want to spread those bets.”
Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.