Bipartisan House Members Request Congress Address Needle & Syringe Shortage to Prepare for COVID-19 Vaccine

U.S. could require 300+ million syringes and needles, which could take more than a year to produce

GLEN ROCK, NJ - On June 3, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) led a bipartisan letter signed by 25 Members of Congress to House leadership to address the shortage of needles and syringes needed to deploy a COVID-19 vaccine nationwide.

To produce a single dose of a vaccine for every person in the U.S., more than 300 million syringes and needles are needed. If a vaccine requires more than one dose for deployment, our country could require much more. 

It could take more than a year to produce these materials given the United States’ manufacturing capacity. 

“Even according to the most optimistic predictions, we are still many months away from having a vaccine ready to be deployed to the public. While this might seem far off, deploying a vaccine nationwide will require a massive manufacturing and logistical effort the likes of which our nation has never seen before,” the Members wrote in a letter this week to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Rapidly producing and deploying millions or billions of vaccine doses greatly exceeds our current domestic manufacturing capacity and may require the repurposing of manufacturing facilities or the construction of new ones.”

The Members continued, “It is critical that we do not repeat the same mistakes made when we faced similar crises in the past. If we do not adequately prepare now, it will be harder and take longer to deploy the number of vaccines necessary to protect the public when one becomes available.” 

The House-passed Heroes Act included requirements to expand and enhance the domestic manufacturing capacity of vaccines. 

The Members requested that future bipartisan COVID-19 legislative packages address this additional manufacturing need through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Strategic National Stockpile, and the private sector with the following provisions: 

  • Encouraging cooperation with the private sector through joint ventures and facilities and equipment needed to ramp up production of medical supplies;
  • Expanding and broadening the medical countermeasure manufacturing base across multiple regions;
  • Creating a domestic reserve of critical medical supplies including syringes, needles, and other materials

Increasing the emergency stockpile of medical supplies including syringes, needles, and other materials.

Along with Gottheimer, the letter is also signed by Representatives Jim Costa, Dan Lipinski, Tom Reed, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Scott Peters, Donald Norcross, Debbie Dingell, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Brian Fitzpatrick, Vicente Gonzalez, Stephanie Murphy, Tom O’Halleran, Jimmy Panetta, Darren Soto, Tom Suozzi, Anthony Brindisi, Kendra Horn, Andy Kim, Susie Lee, Elaine Luria, Tom Malinowski, Mikie Sherrill, Xochitl Torres Small, and Jefferson Van Drew.

A copy of the letter is available HERE, the text of which is provided below.

June 3, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                        The Honorable Kevin McCarthy 

Speaker of the House                                    Republican Leader 

H-232, U.S. Capitol                                       H-204, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515                              Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:

 

We write to urge you to address the shortage of syringes, needles, and other materials needed to effectively deploy a future vaccine for the novel coronavirus, COVD-19. 

 

Researchers across the nation and around the world are hard at work sequencing the genetic code for COVID-19 to produce a vaccine, with many candidates at various stages in the development pipeline. Even according to the most optimistic predictions, we are still many months away from having a vaccine ready to be deployed to the public. While this might seem far off, deploying a vaccine nationwide will require a massive manufacturing and logistical effort the likes of which our nation has never seen before. 

 

We must develop the capacity to effectively deploy the vaccine to millions of citizens, now, to ensure all who need it will be able to access it. It remains to be seen whether we will need millions or billions of doses. But even to produce a single dose for every person in the U.S. would require more than 300 million syringes and needles. If the dose requires more than one syringe or needle for deployment, we could require much more. It could take more than a year to produce these materials given our current manufacturing capacity. 

 

Rapidly producing and deploying millions or billions of vaccine doses greatly exceeds our current domestic manufacturing capacity and may require the repurposing of manufacturing facilities or the construction of new ones. We need excess capacity to supplement existing biopharmaceutical manufacturing which is necessary to produce the medications we need.  

 

It is critical that we do not repeat the same mistakes made when we faced similar crises in the past. In 2009, in the middle of the H1N1 pandemic, vaccine production delays led to a slow rollout of supplies insufficient to meet demand for the vaccine. As a result, many vaccine doses were distributed after H1N1 incidences had already fallen. According to the CDC, of the 162 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine produced for the general public, only about 90 million doses were administered. 

 

We applaud the inclusion of requirements to expand and enhance the domestic manufacturing capacity of vaccines in H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.  We therefore urge you to include robust funding in any subsequent COVID-19 legislative packages to address this manufacturing need through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Strategic National Stockpile, and the private sector. We believe the following provisions should be considered in any potential future legislation:

  • Encouraging cooperation with the private sector through joint ventures and facilities and equipment needed to ramp up production of medical supplies;
  • Expanding and broadening the medical countermeasure manufacturing base across multiple regions;
  • Creating a domestic reserve of critical medical supplies including syringes, needles, and other materials;
  • Increasing the emergency stockpile of medical supplies including syringes, needles, and other materials.

 

If we do not adequately prepare now, it will be harder and take longer to deploy the number of vaccines necessary to protect the public when one becomes available. 

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. 

 

Sincerely,

 

MEMBER OF CONGRESS


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