In 1950, the US Government passed the Defense Production Act (DPA) in response to the Korean War. The law was enacted to give the government more control over industrial production during emergencies such as the COVID-19 Pandemic. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has indicated the DPA gives the President of the United States the authority to “expedite and expand the supply of resources from the US industrial base to support military, energy, space and homeland security programs,” (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2020).
President Joe Biden’s intention in invoking the DPA in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is to expedite the manufacturing of personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, COVID-19 testing materials, and safe and effective vaccines; to name just a few. Recently we have seen the vaccination campaign in full swing, as NFL stadiums have been activated and utilized as mass vaccination sites. In President Biden’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness plan (2021), he outlines the goals his administration has to identify and solve supply gaps and to strengthen the supply chain, but the terms are broad. Under the Defense Production Act, President Biden can prioritize, allocate and offer incentives to expand the productive capacity and supply in the US. The President can prevent US manufacturers from selling their products (including key ingredients) to countries or entities outside of the US.
So, what does that mean in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine? The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is composed of mRNA – the active ingredient, lipids to protect and aid in transport of the mRNA [(4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis, (2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-snglycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol], salts to help balance acidity, and sucrose to help the molecules maintain their shape during freezing (Food and Drug Administration, 2021). Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is made of mRNA, lipids (SM-102, 1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycero3-methoxypolyethylene glycol-2000 [PEG2000-DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), acetic acid, acid stabilizers (tromethamine and tromethamine hydrochloride), sodium acetate and sucrose (Food and Drug Administration, 2020). These ingredients may be reserved or stockpiled for the production of the existing COVID-19 vaccines. What does that mean for other medications that contain those ingredients? That I cannot answer – only time will tell.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. June 23, 2020. Defense Production Act Authorities. Retrieved from https://www.fema.gov/disasters/defense-production-act/dpa-authorities.
Food and Drug Administration. January 2021. Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download
Food and Drug Administration. December 20, 2020. Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/144638/download
National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. January 21, 2021. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf