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Biden reportedly set to invoke Defense Production Act to speed up COVID-19 vaccine production

“You will see” President-elect Joe Biden invoke the Defense Production Act after he takes office in January, Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, said during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday. “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,” she added.

The wartime production law allows the president to order companies to prioritize manufacturing that is related to national security. President Trump invoked the act earlier this year after some hesitation to increase the supply of ventilators.

Biden’s team has reportedly been stewing over whether to invoke the law, and Gounder’s statement indicates they are leaning that way. It’s unclear exactly how Biden would use the law, and questions of equity remain, CNBC notes. For example, the U.S. government reportedly agreed to invoke the DPA as part of its deal in securing an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. In that scenario, the law would “help Pfizer get better access to around nine specialized products it needs to make the vaccine,” so there is concern Pfizer would be unfairly favored over other manufacturers. As things stand, however, only Pfizer and Moderna have vaccines approved for emergency use. Read more at CNBC.

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