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Biden to host vaccine event at White House instead of Baltimore

Biden to host vaccine event at White House instead of Baltimore
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President BidenJoe BidenGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal Obama, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley team up to urge communities of color to get coronavirus vaccine Biden to hold second meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure MORE will meet with executives from Johnson & Johnson and Merck at the White House on Wednesday, scrapping a planned trip to Baltimore to highlight a new partnership between the two rivals on vaccine production.

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiSullivan: White House 'absolutely committed' to raising refugee cap Biden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' Biden, Japan's PM focus on China, North Korea in first bilateral meeting MORE initially told reporters last week that Biden would travel to Baltimore for an event to denote the partnership after the two pharmaceutical giants reached an agreement on vaccine production. Psaki confirmed Monday that the meeting will take place at the White House, though she declined to elaborate on the reason for the change.

"We just felt it was a more appropriate place to have the meeting," she said. "But he will look forward to discussing with them ways to work forward to expedite vaccine supply and distribution to the American people."

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The Baltimore event was slated to take place at Emergent BioSolutions Inc. But the company has come under scrutiny after The New York Times reported on Saturday that the federal government spent nearly half its budget for the Strategic National Stockpile over the last decade on contracts with Emergent for its anthrax vaccines.

The state of the national stockpile came into focus last year as the Trump administration scrambled to acquire protective gear in the early stages of the pandemic.

Emergent is working with Johnson & Johnson to produce the coronavirus vaccine. 

Psaki said Monday that the Biden administration is performing an audit of the national stockpile but that she is unaware of any concerns that the scrutiny on Emergent will affect the timeline or pace of vaccine production.