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The Hill: Overnight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states

Today: The White House is changing how it distributes vaccines to states. President Biden set a goal of getting 70 percent of the population at least partially vaccinated by July 4, and Pfizer projects tens of billions of dollars in revenue from its coronavirus shot.

We’ll start at the White House:

New goal: 70 percent of adults with at least one shot by July 4, Biden says

President Biden announced Tuesday a goal to administer at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of U.S. adults by July 4, as the country moves to vaccinate harder-to-reach Americans.

Biden, in a speech Tuesday afternoon at the White House, also set a goal to have 160 million U.S. adults fully vaccinated by Independence Day.

Together, those goals will mean about 100 million more shots, both first and second doses, across the next 60 days, a senior administration official said.

The big picture: The goal also acknowledges a slowdown in the pace of vaccinations.

Only about 35 million more adults need to get their first shot to reach the 70 percent goal, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures. Reaching the goal would mean about 180 million adults have at least one dose, up from about 145 million, or 56 percent of the population, currently.

The average number of shots per day has been falling in recent weeks, though it is still at about 2.2 million, according to figures from Our World in Data.

Biden acknowledged the slowdown/new phase: “As we anticipated, the pace of vaccinations is slowing, now that the majority of American adults have already gotten their first shot,” Biden said. “Soon we’ll have reached the adults who are most eager to get vaccinated and at that point this effort will shift to a new phase.”

The next phase focuses on people who are hesitant or less motivated to get a shot.

Read more here.

With this new phase in mind, the White House is changing how states will get vaccines

Use it or lose it. Administration officials told states that if they do not order their full allocation of vaccine doses in the coming weeks, those doses will be sent elsewhere, as the White House shifts how it gets the shot to areas most in need.

The White House outlined the new policy in a call with governors, according to an official on the call. States previously ordered doses from the federal government and were able to carry over unordered shots if demand ticked up.

The number of vaccines to individual states will still be based on overall population. But instead of carrying over, unordered doses will go into a pool of vaccines for the federal government to send to areas where demand outstrips supply. The change comes as the nation has seen a downturn in vaccination rates.

States that declined their complete allotments for one week will still have access to their entire share the following week. States will also still be able to increase their order from week-to-week, meaning governors will be able to adjust if they see vaccine demand rise.

Context: Changing state allocations marks a major shift in the administration’s COVID response to date, and an acknowledgement that reaching the remainder of the population will not be easy, and will require maximum flexibility. Governors in states with high vaccination uptake have been requesting additional doses, and it may be an incentive for the unvaccinated in states with slower uptake.

Read more here.

COVID-19 vaccine brings in billions for Pfizer in first quarter

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine earned the company $3.5 billion in the first three months of this year, representing nearly a quarter of its total revenue, the company announced ahead of its earnings call.

The drug giant said it expects the vaccine to earn about $26 billion in total revenue for 2021, based on signed contracts as of mid-April that call for 1.6 billion doses of the shot to be delivered this year.

The company’s previous forecast was $15 billion for the year, but its first-quarter 2021 revenues alone totaled $14.6 billion, an increase of $4.5 billion, or 45 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2020.

Price gouging concerns: Unlike several other rival companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer did not use federal funds and said it planned to make a profit. Democratic lawmakers and drug pricing advocates have raised concerns about Pfizer’s decision, arguing it could lead to price gouging after the initial pandemic period.

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca both decided to sell their vaccines on a nonprofit basis during the pandemic. Moderna developed its vaccine with significant help from the federal government, but with no other products on the market decided to sell its vaccine at a profit.

What’s next: The FDA is getting ready to issue an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those aged 12 to 15, The New York Times reported on Monday. Pfizer also said Tuesday that it expects to apply for emergency authorization for the shot to be given to those aged 2 to 11 in September.

The two companies are also planning to seek approval from the FDA later this month for the vaccine to be used for those 16 to 85 after the public health emergency is declared over.

Read more here.

Pressure builds for Biden to back vaccine patent waivers

Pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to back a waiver for COVID-19 vaccine patents or take other action to share more doses with other countries amid a global surge in cases.

A group of Democratic lawmakers met with White House officials on Friday to push for the waiver at the World Trade Organization, which proponents argue would enable lower-income countries to manufacture the vaccines themselves.

Sources said the eight lawmakers did not get a firm answer from U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients.

After the meeting, Democrats including Reps. Lloyd Doggett (Texas), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a statement ramping up pressure and calling on outside groups to turn up the heat as well.

“We need more urgent action by the Administration to remove any objection to the [waiver] and permit sharing of the intellectual property required for vaccine manufacturing to get underway immediately,” the lawmakers said.

Stay tuned tomorrow: There is a World Trade Organization meeting tomorrow that might bring more clarity to the administration’s position.

Read more here.

Pallone commits to using ‘whatever vehicle I can’ to pass Democrats’ drug pricing bill

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said he would use “whatever vehicle I can” to pass the Democrats’ drug pricing bill, known as H.R. 3, that would allow the federal government to negotiate for decreased prices on behalf of Medicare.

Pallone joined health advocates from Protect Our Care New Jersey in calling for Congress to move forward with H.R. 3, or the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, to reduce prescription drug prices.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Pallone indicated the Democrats hope to get Republican support for H.R. 3 but said GOP lawmakers won’t go for negotiated prices.

Key quote: “We’re just gonna see whatever vehicle we can,” he said. “I would like to have Republican support. It will get some. But the key to the Republicans is they don’t want negotiated prices, and so we’ll have to see what vehicle — I’m gonna use whatever vehicle I can to get this done.”

Background: The press conference comes after President Biden’s administration unveiled its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal last week, which did not include the Democrats’ drug pricing measure.

Pallone, along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), responded by saying they might add measures aimed to reduce drug prices as Biden’s plan works its way through Congress.

Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry have opposed H.R. 3, saying it would inhibit research and innovation for new drugs and treatments.

Read more here.

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