Story at a glance
- Moderna pledged to increase its COVID-19 vaccine production by 20 percent in 2021.
- Officials have been disappointed with the relatively slow rollout of the vaccines.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Moderna will increase its vaccine production from 500 million doses to 600 million for 2021 and allocate resources to hopefully produce one billion vaccine doses in total this year, the company announced on Monday.
Previously, the company committed to 500 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for federal distribution.
By the end of the first quarter of 2021, the company says it anticipates roughly 100 million doses to be available for Americans, with 200 million doses total available by the second quarter.
As of today, Moderna has supplied the U.S. government with roughly 18 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine following emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Our effectiveness in providing early supply to the U.S. and Canadian governments and our ability to increase baseline production estimates for 2021 are both signals that our scale up of mRNA vaccine production is a success,” Juan Andres, chief technical operations and quality officer at Moderna said in the press release. “I want to thank the many private and government collaborators, contractors and the hundreds of Moderna staff who have been working thoughtfully and tirelessly to accomplish this.”
Moderna will also be supplying vaccine doses to Canada after approval from Health Canada's Interim Order on Dec. 23.
While Moderna, along with Pfizer, has been authorized to distribute its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to distribution centers across the country, the vaccine rollout has lagged behind federal goals.
Officials with the White House’s Operation Warp Speed previously set a goal of administering 20 million vaccine doses to Americans by December 2020. Now, in the first month of 2021, roughly 4.56 million doses have been given throughout the country.
Approximately 15.4 million doses have been distributed to health care providers as of Jan. 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We would have liked to have seen it run smoothly and have 20 million doses into people today by the end of the 2020, which was the projection," leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said last week. "Obviously, it didn't happen, and that's disappointing."
Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines are delivered in two doses about three weeks apart, meaning that if 600 million doses are distributed and available, 300 million people will be vaccinated.
The two drug manufacturers are leading the charge as U.S. officials work to cultivate immunity within the country and control the pandemic. The U.S. government agreed to purchase at least 200 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine and a total of 200 million from Pfizer.