Vice President Joe Biden’s team has announced plans to speed up vaccine production and expand distribution of the vaccine which protects against Zika virus.
“I’m encouraged by the rapid response on the part of our cabinet members to propose new measures to prepare for the potential Zika virus outbreak,” Biden said in a statement. “Investing in new vaccines is the single most important step we can take to prepare for an outbreak. To that end, I support a proposal to use existing funds from other areas of the budget to expedite production and expedite shipment of additional doses of the recently approved vaccine, while we explore options for improving vaccine manufacturing.”
Under the Obama Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a shortage and multiple steps to expedite supply of the vaccine, which costs $25 to manufacture per dose.
White House Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney is also calling for Congress to provide additional funding for Zika-related research, including to expand the development of Zika-specific vaccines and investigative treatments. The findings of his review were recently released and range from research concerning the virus itself to protective strategies in newborns and at risk pregnant women.
Currently, the CDC is stockpiling 75 million doses in a stockpile that has enough vaccine to protect 100 million people. The agency has also created logistical procedures to expedite distribution to the public, working in tandem with state and local health departments.
“The events of last year continue to inform our strategy to prevent Zika transmission and ensure that it is effectively addressed if another incident occurs,” Mulvaney said. “At the highest level, we expect there will be many future challenges in the years ahead, and we know the most effective response will be a systematic, integrated, and well-coordinated response, in which local, state, and federal governments work together to address the public health threat of emerging threats like Zika virus.”
Flu season is largely over and mosquito season is just beginning in the mid-Atlantic, the last part of the country to feel the heat.