U.S. drug distributors urge govt to boost COVID-19 vaccine supply network

Vaccination center in California
A large vaccination site is shown as people with preexisting health conditions are granted access to a vaccination during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Inglewood, California, U.S., March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

March 15 (Reuters) - Three major U.S. drug distributors have requested the government to expand the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain network as the country strives to immunize its population against the novel coronavirus as quickly as possible.

AmerisourceBergen Corp (ABC.N), Cardinal Health Inc (CAH.N) and Henry Schein Inc (HSIC.O) in a letter urged officials to develop a plan of action aimed at identifying ways to move the vaccines safely and quickly to administrators and vaccination sites.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, to whom the letter was addressed, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The companies said on Monday the existing healthcare network, including pharmacies, doctors' offices, hospitals and other healthcare providers, will need to be activated to achieve herd immunity against the virus.

Reuters first reported in January that Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Corp were in talks with federal officials about increasing the number of companies shipping coronavirus vaccines as part of the Biden administration's push to speed up inoculations. (https://reut.rs/3rSvlGu)

The U.S government in February authorized Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the third vaccine to become available in the country, after those developed by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) received authorization late last year.

Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Additional reporting by Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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