President BidenJoe BidenDNC beefs up its finance team Pentagon extends National Guard presence at Capitol through May 23 Blinken to appear before Foreign Affairs Committee MORE will announce plans on Wednesday to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to secure 100 million more doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, a White House official confirmed.
Biden is expected to make the announcement during a meeting with executives from the pharmaceutical giant and Merck, according to The New York Times, which first reported the development. The goal would reportedly be to have enough supply to inoculate children, and to possibly administer booster doses or reformulate the vaccine for coronavirus variants.
Biden announced last week that the U.S. would have enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of May, a condensed timeframe from his previous prediction of July.
But senior administration officials told the Times that the White House is trying to prepare for unpredicted challenges that could disrupt vaccine production.
The officials told the newspaper that they expected the Johnson & Johnson doses to be delivered in the second half of this year.
The president is hosting a meeting with Johnson & Johnson and Merck on Wednesday to highlight the partnership announced last week to produce the former’s vaccine.
Biden said last week that he invoked the Defense Production Act to equip Merck facilities to safely manufacture the vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson plans to operate its plants full time to increase supply.
The president had originally scheduled a trip to Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore. The trip to Emergent —which is helping produce Johnson & Johnson vaccine — was cancelled amid scrutiny that the federal government spent half of its budget for the Strategic National Stockpile over the past decade on contracts for Emergent’s anthrax vaccines.
–Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report, which was updated at 8:43 a.m.