The Biden administration is making use of the Defense Production Act in three key areas, the top official tasked with supplies announced Friday, including equipment and supplies for Pfizer vaccine production, an increase in at-home or point of care testing, and personal protective equipment, particularly gloves, for front-line workers.
After President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing US agencies to use the law, the administration has identified shortfalls in 12 critical categories of supplies, the White House’s supply coordinator Tim Manning said at Friday’s briefing.
The law, Manning said, will help address what he described as a critical shortage of rubber gloves, something that is a “grave need.”
“There’s a grave need for masks, shields, and gloves, and we currently aren’t producing these at the rate we need in order to keep up with demand. We’re already working to increase the availability of N95 masks to frontline workers but another critical area of concern we hear over and over is surgical gloves. Right now we just don’t have enough gloves,” Manning said.
“We’re nearly 100% reliant on overseas manufacturers to export to us, our country’s surgical gloves that protect health care workers, and that’s unacceptable and we’re using all of our authorities to fix it,” Manning said.
The administration will also use the DPA to expand priority ratings for Pfizer, including the filling pumps and tangential flow filtration skid unit components needed to manufacture the Covid-19 vaccines, which will eliminate an existing bottleneck in production.
This action, Manning said, “will allow Pfizer to ramp up production and hit their targets of delivering hundreds of millions of doses over the coming months.”
The DPA will also be used to invest in six suppliers to surge at-home and point-of-care Covid-19 tests.
“The country is well behind where we need to be in testing, particularly the rapid at-home test that will allow us all to get back to normal activities like work and school,” Manning said, noting that “61 million point of care, or at-home tests will be available by the end of this summer.”
Manning did not provide additional details of the contracts or identify the companies involved.