WASHINGTON: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Friday said he would order increased production of syringes and other supplies to ramp up vaccinations against COVID-19 and improve upon the Trump administration rollout that he called a “dismal failure.”
Under Biden’s plan, federal disaster-relief workers would set up thousands of vaccination centers, where retired doctors would administer shots to teachers, grocery store workers, people over 65 years old and other groups who do not currently qualify.
The Democrat would invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production of equipment needed to distribute the vaccines, such as glass vials, needles and syringes, according to a document released by his transition team. He would also use the law to support vaccine refrigeration and storage.
Biden said his team has identified companies that are ready to be activated under the law, which enables the president to order businesses to produce items necessary for national defense.
States that use their National Guard in the effort would be reimbursed by the federal government, the transition team said.
The coronavirus has killed more than 390,000 people in the United States, and a top Biden adviser said on Friday the death tally could reach 500,000 by February.
Biden has promised to do better than President Donald Trump to curb the virus and get 100 million vaccine shots into the arms of Americans during his first 100 days in office.
“This is a time to set big goals and pursue them with courage and conviction because the health of the nation is literally at stake,” said Biden, who takes office on Wednesday. reuters