U.S. President Joe Biden toured a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plant Friday afternoon outside Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he touted his administration’s plans to distribute the vaccine to Americans, even as winter weather across the country caused delays.
"We're now on track to have enough vaccine supply for all Americans by the end of July. That doesn't mean it'll be in all Americans' arms, but enough vaccine will be available," Biden said.
The president acknowledged that winter weather across much of the country is currently “slowing up the distribution," but said his administration is on track to reach its goal of administering 100 million shots in its first 100 days.
White House officials said earlier Friday that the winter storms in the Midwest and South had delayed the delivery of 6 million vaccines, which is impacting every state. The delayed doses of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines represents three days' worth of shipments.
Even the president's trip to see Pfizer's largest plant was delayed a day because of a storm affecting Washington.
During his tour of the Pfizer plant, Biden walked through an area called the “freezer farm,” where vaccine doses are stored in ultra-cold conditions. Wearing two face masks, the president spoke with some of the plant’s workers. He was joined by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients.
Speaking before Biden, Bourla said Pfizer would more than double vaccine production capacity in the coming weeks. Currently it averages 5 million doses per week. He said the increase was the result in part of improvements in the manufacturing processes at the plant.
In his remarks, the president touted the vaccine’s safety and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated.
"If there's one message to cut through to everyone in this country, it's this: The vaccines are safe,” he said.
Earlier Friday, Pfizer and its pharmaceutical partner BioNTech said a new study they conducted indicates their COVID-19 vaccine can remain effective when stored in standard freezers for up to two weeks.
The finding is a significant development since one of the initial drawbacks of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was that it was required to be stored in ultra-low-temperature freezers not commonly found in standard clinics and pharmacies.
In a statement posted on Pfizer’s website Friday, the companies said they have submitted the new data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demonstrating their vaccine is stable when stored at -25°C to -15°C, temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators.
Also Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that data collected in the first month of vaccinations in the United States have found no concerning new issues with either the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine.
It said data collected from the administration of 13.8 million doses of vaccines between December 14, 2020, and January 13, 2021, showed 6,994 reports of adverse events after vaccination, with 90.8% of them classified as nonserious and 9.2% as serious.