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Biden to invoke Defense Production Act to boost vaccine production

The act allows the president to require businesses to prioritize the production needs of the federal government for national security purposes.

WASHINGTON — As coronavirus vaccines continue to roll out across the country, a member of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 advisory team says he will invoke the Defense Production Act when he takes office to boost vaccine production. 

The act allows the president to require businesses to prioritize the production needs of the federal government for national security purposes.

“You will see him invoking the Defense Production Act,” Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, told CNBC. “The idea there is to make sure the personal protective equipment, the test capacity and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply.” 

Gounder said the U.S. will see a "major increase" in testing in order to help detect asymptomatic cases and genomic surveillance, which track mutations of the virus. 

"We did not do [genomic surveillance] routinely. We have the technology, we just chose not to spend the money on that kind of public health surveillance," Gounder said.

First enacted following the start of the Korean War, the Defense Production Act has been reauthorized over 50 times for various purposes since 1950.

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As of Dec. 26, over 9.5 million COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed in the United States and more than 1.9 million people have already received the first dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The U.S. has already authorized the use of two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and BioNTech and the other by Moderna, but doses will be rationed for months.

Credit: AP
President-elect Joe Biden receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, from nurse practitioner Tabe Mase. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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