Feb 19, 2021
Joe Biden Speech at Pfizer Vaccine Manufacturing Facility Transcript February 19
President Joe Biden gave remarks at a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing facility on February 19, 2021. He urged Americans to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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Hello everyone. Mr. President, it is a great honor to welcome you and your team to Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Michigan site. Established in 1948, our Kalamazoo site is one of three manufacturing plants in the US that they are engaged in the manufacturing of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Our colleagues here have been working around the clock throughout the pandemic to ensure a continuous supply of critical hospital medicines as well, of course, as to produce and ship Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
From hour one of his presidency, and to be honest, well before the elections, President Biden has demonstrated an understanding of the urgency of this pandemic and a deep compassion for those lives have been impacted and a wavering belief in the ability of both science and American ingenuity to help us bring an end to this public health crisis.
I’m happy to say that the manufacturing and shipping of the vaccine have gone very well so far. As of February 17th, we have supplied 40 million doses to the US government and our shipment accuracy is 99.9%. Of course, recognizing the urgency of vaccinating as many Americans as quickly as possible. We are taking steps to further accelerate our production.
To this end, we have found a great ally in the Biden administration, which has significantly aided our efforts in a number of areas, including support for rated orders through the Defense Production Act help in securing both critical materials and equipment needed here in Kalamazoo to expand our manufacturing capacity and fulfill the US orders.
This one, Pfizer has been working to expand and enhance our manufacturing capabilities to increase the number of doses we are able to produce globally by the end of 2021. As part of this expansion, we are adding a new formulation suite here in Kalamazoo, lipid production capabilities in both Kalamazoo and at our site in Groton, Connecticut and finish lines at our site in MacPherson, Kansas.
In addition, we have engaged to US contract manufacturers and we are also increasing the supply of raw materials from existing suppliers and bringing on new suppliers. We have improved our processes to double the vax size and increase yield, and we have deployed more efficient lab test methods to reduce release times. All of this efforts have allowed us to reduce our timelines from approximately 110 days from start to vial ready and we are now approaching an average of 60 days, which is an almost 50% improvement.
Thanks to all of these actions, but more importantly, thanks to the support of the Biden administration, over the coming few weeks, we expect to increase the number of doses being shipped for the US from an average of 5 million doses per week, which is the average until now, to more than double of that number, starting from the next couple of weeks. We are on track to provide to the US government a total of 120 million doses by the end of March, and to reach 200 million doses released by the end of May, two months ahead of the original schedule of that milestone.
Of course, today, during this meeting, the president challenged us to identify additional ways in which his administration could help us potentially accelerate even further the delivery of the full 300 million doses earlier than July. Mr. President, the challenge is accepted and we will try to do our best. We are also very pleased to say that we are continually looking for ways to improve accessibility to the vaccine. Just this morning, we announced new data demonstrating the stability of our COVID-19 vaccine when stored for a total of two weeks at minus 20 degrees Celsius, a temperature more commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers. This is in addition to the five days of stability at the standard refrigerated temperature between two and eight degrees of Celsius. If based on this data, the FDA grants us an update or license, this new storage option would offer pharmacists and the vaccination centers, greater flexibility.
Of course, all of this work to increase supply and distribution will mean nothing if people are not willing to show up and roll up their sleeves to be vaccinated, that this is why we applaud the Biden administration’s unwavering focus and strong efforts to advance vaccine confidence, equitable distribution of the vaccine and overall health equity.
Looking ahead, I’m confident the collaboration we are establishing with the vaccine partnership will grow even deeper over the next four years as we work to achieve more public health breakthroughs. And this is because President Biden understands the importance of moving at the speed of science. Pfizer’s participation, for example, in the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Moonshot initiative is just one example of our shared commitment to accelerating the discovery of medical breakthroughs.
Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer, the head of our research organizations, Dr. Mikael Dolsten, is a founding member of Cancer Moonshot, and we all know of the President’s deep personal involvement, his advocacy for accelerated cancer research in the wake of his son Beau’s passing has made a real impact. The same type of impact our colleagues hope to make every day in pursuit of our purpose, which is breakthroughs that change patient’s lives.
Once again, Mr. President, I want to thank you for visiting our Kalamazoo, Michigan site and for all your support and now ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor to introduce the President of the United States.
Joe Biden: (09:09)
[Robert 00:09:09], thank you very much. Thank you not only for what you do, for the credit you’ve given me that I really don’t deserve. This is a case of life and death. We’re talking about people’s lives. I want you to know that once we beat COVID, we’re going to do everything we can to end cancer as we know it. I’ve asked Dr. Eric Lander, a renowned Harvard, MIT scientist to co-lead the Presidential Council of Advisors in Science and Technology and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. These are White House offices that bring together the country’s top scientists and address our most pressing needs.
Joe Biden: (10:02)
… top scientists that addressed our most pressing needs. There’ll be part of the administration’s work to develop a DARPA like advance research effort on cancer and other diseases, just like there is DARPA and the Defense Department that develops the breakthroughs to protect our country. This administration is going to be guided by science to save lives and to make lives better. That’s why I wanted to come here, Albert, to thank you, and thank all the workers here in Kalamazoo. I’m here to thank my good friend, Governor Whitmer, and she has become a good and close friend. The Governor’s been on the front lines of this pandemic as well for a long time, and I think she’s doing an incredible job under very difficult circumstances.
Joe Biden: (10:49)
And Michigan is also fortunate to have my buddy, Gary Peters as United States Senator and Debbie Stabenow, Gary is here. Gary has been a workhorse in making sure that we move through this funding to get things done, because he understands better than anyone it’s about urgency, the urgency of the moment. So Gary, thank you, Senator. Thank you for all you’re doing.
Joe Biden: (11:12)
Last week, I toured the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. I met world-class doctors, scientists, and researchers who were critical for discovering the vaccines in record time. I remember when we first started talking about this, asking Dr. Fauci and others, and they said, “Well, it could take up to several years, maybe as many as six or eight years to finding a vaccine.” It’s a miracle of science, and the brilliant minds that we have around us. And now it’s a second miracle, the miracle of manufacturing to produce hundreds of millions of doses. Let me say that again, hundreds of millions of doses. I came here because I want the American people to understand the extraordinary, extraordinary work that’s being done to undertake the most difficult operational challenges this nation has ever faced. And let me say parenthetically that it’s not enough that we find cures for Americans, there needs to be cures that the world is able to take part of, because you can’t build a wall or fence high enough to keep a pandemic out.
Joe Biden: (12:23)
On our tour, I met a few of your nearly 3000 workers, Albert. Experts managing ingredients that come in from different cities and states. Experts handling 3D modeling and artificial intelligence to ensure that every dose is properly crafted. Experts ensuring a sterile environment so that each vial, each and everyone is safe and free of contaminants. All this is followed by extensive safety and quality control inspection, then careful packaging and labeling. We walked by a freezer farm that then keeps those doses viable so they can be shipped. This is an incredibly complex process, and at every stop safety is the utmost priority. The whole process takes teamwork, precision and round the clock focus. Machinists operating some of the most advanced equipment in the world, working side by side with chemists, biologists, pioneering technologies that less than a year ago were a little more than theories and aspirations. And it takes a partnership, in our view, between the federal government and all the companies and universities contributing to the vaccine effort.
Joe Biden: (13:44)
Just over four weeks ago, America had no real plan to vaccinate most of the country. My predecessor, as my mother would say, God love him, failed to order enough vaccines, failed to mobilize the effort to administer the shots, failed to set up vaccine centers. That changed the moment we took office. I directed Jeff Zients, my COVID-19 response coordinator to lead my administration’s work with the vaccine manufacturers to buy more vaccines and to speed up delivery. Albert referenced it earlier, and I want to thank him for making it happen because we worked together. We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for all Americans by the end of July. That doesn’t mean it will be an all American’s arms, but enough vaccine will be available by that time. These orders allow facilities like this one to plan ahead, accelerate their production schedules.
Joe Biden: (14:43)
Here’s what else we did, when we discovered that vaccine manufacturers weren’t being prioritized when it came to scrutinizing and securing supplies they needed, we fixed that problem and got them what they needed. We also used the Defense Production Act to speed up the supply chain for key equipment like fill pumps and filters, which has already helped increase vaccine production. In fact, on our tour today, they showed me a critical piece of machinery they didn’t have before, now they do, and it’s allowing them to ramp up production.
Joe Biden: (15:19)
And as we increase supply, we’re carrying out a clear plan to get shots into the arms of 300 million Americans or more. And I know people want the confidence that it’s safe. Well, I just toured where it’s being made, it takes more time to do the check for safety than it does actually to make the vaccine, that’s how fastidious they are. And listen to Dr. Fauci, Dr. Fauci assured me that COVID-19 vaccines were safe. That’s why several weeks ago I went through the rigorous scientific review. That’s why I took my vaccine shot publicly to demonstrate to the American people that I know and believe it’s safe. That’s why Vice President Harris also received a shot publicly. We all know there’s some history or some hesitancy about taking this vaccine. We all know there’s a history in this country of having subjected certain communities to terrible medical abuses in the past. But if there’s one message to cut through to everyone in this country it’s this, the vaccines are safe, please for yourself, your family, your community, this country take the vaccine when it’s your turn and available. That’s how to beat this pandemic.
Joe Biden: (16:39)
And we’re making progress, we deployed more vaccinators, the people to put the vaccine in your arm. We’re now making it possible for retired doctors and nurses to come back and under the law administer these shots. We’ve put new vaccinators in the field. These include over 800 medical personnel from our Commission Corps at the Department of Health and Human services, and personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. The Defense Department, the National Guard, we’re literally lining up thousands of vaccinators, because it’s one thing to have the vaccine, it is very different to get it into someone’s arms.
Joe Biden: (17:18)
We’re also creating more places for people to get vaccinated. We provided $3 billion to States, territories, and tribes to create hundreds of new vaccination centers and ramp up the existing ones that are there. Right here in Michigan with Governor Whitmer, FEMA has provided tens of millions of dollars to bolster the State’s community vaccination centers. From the National Guard at the Expo Center here in Kalamazoo, to the TCF Center in Detroit, to parking lots in churches across the state. We’ve worked at governors in California, Texas, New York, more to come to stand up massive mass vaccine sites at stadiums that’ll be open 24/7, and arenas and community centers. It’s an effort that’s on top of the federal government covering the full cost for the State’s use of their National Guards for pandemic efforts. And you suggested I do that a while ago and I promised you I’d do it and we did it.
Joe Biden: (18:21)
We also started shipping vaccines directly to thousands of local pharmacies across the country, so eligible folks can get the COVID-19 shot like they would a flu shot. Here in Michigan, that’s already more than 220 pharmacies like Rite Aid and Meijers in more than 130 cities in Michigan. And that’s just the beginning, it’s only been four weeks. And for folks who aren’t near a pharmacy or a mass vaccination centers, we’re deploying mobile clinics. These are special vehicles and pop up clinics that meet folks where they live, folks who don’t have access to transportation to get the shots.
Joe Biden: (19:02)
We’re also flying vaccines to community health centers, federal community health centers, to reach those who are hit the hardest, Black Latinos, Native Americans in rural communities, which have higher rates of COVID infections and deaths than any other group. Here in Michigan we’re already partnering with community health centers serving more than 370,000 patients in 11 cities across the state, that’s because you guys have pointed out where they were and why it was so important and how we get to, as Gary talks about, get to the people most in need and the people most dying from COVID. This is important to ensure everyone is treated equally and those hardest hit get the care they deserve. We’re now at a point where we’ve seen the average daily number of people vaccinated nearly double from the week before I took office to about 1.7 million average per day, getting…
Joe Biden: (20:03)
… 0.7 million average per day getting a shot. We’re on track to surpass my commitment. You may remember when I said in my first 100 days, just before I was inaugurated, which seemed like 100 days. But anyway, first 100 days before I was inaugurated that we did administer 100 million shots in my first 100 days, but we’re on the path to do that. We’re averaging 1. 7 million a day. Soon we’ll be at 50 million and I’m confident we’ll exceed the number, but that’s just the floor. We have to keep going.
Joe Biden: (20:41)
But despite the progress, we’re still in the teeth of a pandemic. New strains are emerging. In a few days, we’ll cross 500,000 Americans will have died from COVID-19, 500,000. That is almost 70,000 more than all the Americans who died in World War II over a four-year period. All the sorrow, all the heartache, all the pain. While we wait for everyone to get vaccinated, we still need you to wash your hands, stay socially distanced, and mask up to help save lives.
Joe Biden: (21:27)
That’s why with the authority I have as president, I signed an executive order. The only authority I have to require this to require masking on all federal property, all modes of travel like planes, trains and buses. We’ve been calling on governors and mayors and local officials, Republicans and Democrats to institute mask mandates within the jurisdictions just like Governor Whitmer has done here in Michigan. Look, I know it’s inconvenient, but you’re making a difference when you do it. Everything we do matters. We need everyone to do their part for themselves, for their loved ones and yes, for your country. It’s a patriotic duty.
Joe Biden: (22:12)
We need Congress to pass my American Rescue Plan that deals with the immediate crisis, the urgency. Now critics say my plan is too big, that it costs $1.9 trillion. That’s too much. Let me ask them, what would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out? Should we not invest $20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Should we not invest $290 million to extend unemployment insurance for the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by while they get back to work?
Joe Biden: (22:52)
Should we not invest $50 billion to help small businesses stay open when tens of thousands have had to close permanently? And by the way, they make up half the employment in America. Should we not invest a $130 million to help schools across the nation open safely? Right now, 24 million adults, 11 million children don’t have enough food to eat. Unless you think I’m exaggerating, think of those scenes you’ve seen on the television with cars lined up which seem like miles to wait to have someone put a box of food in their trunk.
Joe Biden: (23:34)
People never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever thought they would need help and through no fault of their own, they’re in that circumstance. If we don’t pass the American Rescue Plan, 40 minutes and Americans will lose nutritional assistance through a program we call SNAP, the old food stamp program. Do we not invest $3 billion to keep families from going hungry? One in five Americans are behind in their rent. One in 10 are behind in their mortgage. How many people do you know that will go to bed tonight staring into the ceiling and say, “God, what is going to happen if I don’t get my job. If I don’t have my unemployment check? What’s happened to me? I’m losing my health insurance. What do I do?”
Joe Biden: (24:26)
This is the United States of America for God’s sake. We invest in people who are in need. Do we not the best $35 billion to help people keep a roof over their heads? I could go on, but you get the point. I’m grateful that the Senate and the House are moving quickly and I’m compared to hear their ideas how to make the package better, and make it cheaper. I’m open to that, but we have to make clear who is helped and who is hurt. And my hope is that the Republicans in Congress listen to their constituents.
Joe Biden: (25:02)
According to the polls, there is overwhelming bipartisan support. The vast majority of the American people, more than 70% of the American people with all the polls you all conduct, including the majority of Republican want us to act and act big and quickly and support the plan. Major economists left, right and center say we should focus on smart investments that we can make now in jobs, in our people to prevent long-term economic damage to our nation and to strengthen the economic competitors going forward.
Joe Biden: (25:37)
In fact, an analysis by the Wall Street firm Moody’s estimates that if we pass my American Rescue Plan, the economy will create seven million jobs this year, this year. We’ve also been in constant contact with mayors and governors, county officials, members of Congress, both parties, both parties. I’ve met with them in my office. I’ve met with them on the internet, I’m Zooming on with them. Both parties in every state and guess what? They agree we have to act now.
Joe Biden: (26:14)
I got a letter for more than 400 mayors from big cities and small towns, they understand we’re not going to get our economy back in shape and the millions of people back to work until we beat this virus. That’s why the American Rescue Plan puts 160 million billion dollars into more testing and tracing, manufacturing and Distribution, and setting up vaccination sites. Everything that’s needed to get vaccines into people’s arms, which is the most difficult logistical effort in the United States has undertaken in peacetime. It includes four billion for new manufacturing plants. So we’re ready to manufacture vaccines in the future where we don’t have to wait.
Joe Biden: (26:57)
I’m going to close with what I said before. I’ll always be straight with you. I said at my inauguration, I’ll give it to you straight from the shoulders as Roosevelt said because the American people can take the truth. They can handle anything. I can’t give you a date when this crisis will end, but I can tell you we’re doing everything possible to have that day come sooner rather than later. And all of you here are doing some of the most important work in this facility right here that can be done.
Joe Biden: (27:32)
And I know this is personal. I walked in today and I won’t say who came up to me, but one of the people in this building came up to me and said, “My father-in-law is dying from COVID.” I said, “Can I call him?” He said, “No, he couldn’t take a call.” He says, “Keep him in his prayers, please.” How many of you know somebody who’s in real trouble or has passed? How many people do you know who sat down to have breakfast this morning and looked at an empty chair across the table?
Joe Biden: (28:10)
You’ve seen the devastation of this virus in your family, your community, but you’re stepping up. You’re saving lives here. Lives of your loved ones, your neighbors, your fellow Americans. You’re showing how this town, this state, this country takes care of our own. Leave nobody behind. We can do anything when we do it together. I believe we’re on the road. I promise you. I know we’ll run into bumps. It’s not going to be easy here to the end, but we’re going to beat this. We’re going to beat this. May God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. I want to thank you for and your people for all you do.
Speaker 1: (28:58)
Thank you, Mr. President.
Speaker 1: (28:58)
Speaker 2: (29:17)
Joe Biden: (29:18)
Well, you got to do a little bit of the math. Getting the vaccine and having it available is not the same as putting it in someone’s arms. This is going to be a continuous rolling effort. We will have ordered much of which would have been distributed over 600 million doses by the end of July. July 29th is the expected date, but that could change. Look what’s happening with the weather now for example. It’s slowing up the distribution right now, but I believe we’ll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year and God willing, this Christmas will be different than last. But I can’t make that commitment to you. There are other strains of the virus-
Joe Biden: (30:03)
I can’t make that commitment to you. There are other strains of the virus. We don’t know what could happen in terms of production rates. Things can change, but we’re doing everything the science has indicated we should do and people are stepping up to get everything done that has to be done. We’re going to have debates about whether or not, for example, I can’t set nationally who gets in line when and first. That’s a decision the states make. I can recommend. I can say what I’ve said like I’m the guy that said we should lower it to 65 years of age. I think 35 states have done that or more. I think that, for example, I think it’s critically important to get our kids back to school. I think it’s really important because of the psychological damage being done and the loss of time. A kid loses a semester when they’re in fifth grade, it means they’re not just a semester behind, they may be a year and a half behind all the difficulty.
Joe Biden: (31:04)
You were at that town meeting I had with that little girl who was worried that told her mommy she was worried maybe she’s going to die. So there’s a lot. I think it’s important we get people back in school. There’s a difference, for example, according to the science now between kids between the ages of three and probably 12 years old in terms of whether they can absorb and/or communicate to disease than it is for kids who are 15, 16, 17, 18 years old, who congregate more together. It’s harder in a high school than it is in a grammar school. We know certain things are necessary, social distancing, smaller class sizes, ventilation, testing, and the possibility that staff, whether it’s the staff taking care of the sanitary conditions in the school or simple, you’ve heard me say this before, bus drivers.
Joe Biden: (32:01)
To open the schools, we need more buses and bus drivers. We can’t put kids packed in a bus sitting next to one another. So we know the things that have to be done. The question is the order in which we do them is going to determine on what moves the quickest and where the need is the greatest. Obviously we still have to focus on first responders, our doctors, our nurses, those delivering the services. But the reason I bother to bore you with that detail is to try to explain to the American people that this is a process, but we know now the fundamental basic elements. The fundamental basic elements are that before you get the shot and after if you get the shots and after, social distancing saves lives. Wearing masks saves lives. Making sure that you wash your hands with hot water saves lives.
Joe Biden: (32:57)
This is not hyperbole. This is not a political statement. It’s a reality. The science has demonstrated that. We also know that it’s one thing to have a vaccine available. The problem was how do you get it into people’s arms. There’s not enough people to vaccinate. All the great hospitals in this state, my state, they can line up and give people, but they can’t possibly handle the volume that is needed. So what do you do? You get more people qualified to give vaccinations. The quicker you can open up places and the people can come up and demonstrate they’re on the pecking order. They’re ready for their shot and they’re qualified. Keeping places open 24/7 makes a lot of sense, but you need people to do it. So we all know the basic things that have to happen. Now, we also know that there are things that intervene. Things happen.
Joe Biden: (33:58)
Weather, people get ill, people get confused. There’s a lot of people who aren’t able. You’ve heard me say before my little granddaughter can use that cell phone of hers to do more in about 12 seconds than I can do it in an hour, but a lot of people aren’t able to, a lot of people who need the help. They said, “Well, get online.” Well, they don’t have a means to get online. They might not have the ability to get online and they may not know how to do it. We talk about everybody is, most people are within five miles of a pharmacy.
Joe Biden: (34:35)
Well, if you’re living alone and you’re a 68 year old woman and you’re in a minority neighborhood and there’s no bus service, you might as well be 500 miles away. That’s why we’re leaning out. And Gary, you talked to me about it, getting mobile vans to go out. So we know the kinds of things that have to be done, but there has never ever ever been a logistical challenge as consequential of what we’re trying to do, but we’re getting it done. And as my mom would say, with the grace of God and the goodwill of neighbors, we’re going to save a lot of lives. Thank you very much.