The U.S. government is investing $42 million to help Becton, Dickinson and Company, known as BD, ramp up its production of syringes and needles ahead of the future coronavirus vaccination push.
The U.S.’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), committed to providing $42 million for a $70 million project to expand BD’s manufacturing operations in Nebraska, according to a press release.
The increased capacity for manufacturing is expected to be functioning within 12 months and will “provide priority access to the U.S. government for hundreds of millions of syringes and needles” for COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
News of the monetary commitment comes as researchers across the world scramble to produce an effective coronavirus vaccine.
The disease has ravaged the United States, infecting more than 3 million people in the country and killing more than 130,000 as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
BD also confirmed a U.S. government order for 50 million needles and syringes to be delivered by the end of December 2020.
BD said it doesn’t expect this order or future orders to affect their other productions, including for the annual flu vaccination and childhood immunization campaigns. The Defense Production Act designation for the order will allow the company to “seek priority access to raw materials for manufacturing.”
“BD’s commitment to produce 50 million vaccine injection devices by the end of this year to support the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination campaign is the latest effort in the company’s multifaceted global response to this virus, and the new, strategic public-private partnership will help ensure the U.S. is prepared for future pandemic vaccination efforts,” Rick Byrd, the president of Medication Delivery Solutions for BD, said in a statement.
BARDA, which is a part of the Health and Human Services Office of the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, has invested more than $3 billion in vaccines.
The authority has also funded more than 30 projects that are a part of “Operation Warp Speed,” a Trump administration operation designed to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, Reuters reported.
Over the weekend, President Trump claimed the U.S. would “likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year.” However, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn declined to make a prediction about when a vaccine would be available in a Sunday interview.
Health officials have said a vaccine could be available by January but have also cautioned about the timeline, emphasizing the vaccine needs to be effective.