President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that there will be enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate every adult in the United States by the end of May.
Biden’s projection came days after he said he believed it would take until the end of July to have enough vaccine for the entire adult population of the U.S.
While Biden said he believed the vaccine would be there by the end of May, he conceded it would take longer to get shots into everyone’s arms.
Biden explained that the schedule was moved up due to an arrangement with the pharmaceutical company Merck who agreed to help manufacture the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the third vaccine to receive emergency authorization use in the United States. The other two are Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
“As a consequence of the stepped-up process that I ordered, and just outlined, this country will have enough vaccine supply as a target for every adult in America by the end of May,” Biden said. “By the end of May. That’s progress. Important progress.”
The agreement is unusual since Merck and Johnson & Johnson are competitors. Merck’s attempt at a COVID-19 vaccine failed.
According to The New York Times, it will take months for Merck to convert its facilities to manufacture and package a vaccine that it did not invent.
The story went on to say that it’s hoped the Merck deal would eventually double the doses that Johnson & Johnson could have manufactured on its own.
The company was to deliver 37 million doses by the end of March with an additional 100 million doses by the end of June. According to Johnson & Johnson, it will be able to deliver only 20 million doses by March 31.
The Biden administration told governors to make preparations to administer even more doses in the coming weeks, The Associated Press reported.
Nearly a million more doses of both Moderna and Pfizer are headed toward the federally backed program to administer vaccines in retail pharmacies, the AP said.
As of Tuesday, about 51.7 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 26.1 million having received two doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.