As Vaccine Approvals Loom, U.S. Funds A Back-Up Plan For Delivery

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When the time comes to vaccinate the world against cove in one thousand nine hundred and will there be enough glass vials and syringes to get it done. The trump administration appears to have a plan later. Today it's expected to announce that it will loan about six hundred million dollars to accompany in connecticut. Makes an injection device that can be mass produced. Here's dina ten of npr's investigations team. That's the sound of a covid nineteen vaccine backup plan. It's a production line in columbia south carolina. That's turning out a novel injection device that the trump administration is counting on to help deliver the covid nineteen vaccine as early as this spring. Npr's learn that later today the administration will add to its already hefty investment in a company called apogee systems america and extend more than half a billion dollars to its effort to backstop the country's covid nineteen vaccine program. I'm jay walker. And i am the chairman of abject systems and you founded another company. We've heard of right. yes i am. Best known as the founder of priceline dot com the founder priceline. The man who put william shatner back on the map is now producing a single use self contained injection device. That's designed to be an alternative to glass vials and syringes. We called a seret. It's a little bigger than your thumb and it looks a little like the single doses of eyedrops that you get from the eye doctor. It has a hypodermic needle. That you screw into the end like you do when you screw in a nozzle on a tiny bottle of crazy glue. Only in this case it would carry any number of approved. Covert vaccines walker said. It's that effort that the us international development finance corp. is funding with a five hundred and ninety million dollar loan. The us government is announcing a plan to support the biggest and fastest vaccine syringe filling factory up to three billion doses a year. That's billion with a b. Even though the injection device has yet to be approved by the food and drug administration which worries nicole lurie. She served at the department of health and human services. During the obama administration fit challenge that i see is that it is a completely untested technology. What testing of the applejack product has been done to ensure that the materials inside the epa jet containers don't interact with components of the various vaccines. The vaccine being produced by moderna for example needs to be kept it. Arctic temperatures walker says the epa jet devices can handle that but the fda has yet to certified that that's true but then you can say that about a lot of the projects funded by the trump administration to try to combat the virus. Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to fund a roster of vaccines some of which are bound to fail. The point is to try and find a solution deirnesa wrong as the global program leader for medical devices at path which is focused on improving global public health in developing countries. And he's been tracking progress for a while and he says it's hired some people who are really good at pre filled technologies from our perspective. A low cost pre fill. Is something that we've always been aiming towards for low and middle income countries. He doesn't think the administration is making a particularly risky bet. I'm excited about what could be. I mean we could truly have a low cost scaled up pre filled system. That could be used for a number of different drugs or vaccines biologics. That could benefit low and middle income countries. Applejack is getting a cash infusion. Now it needs fda approval to become the backup plan. The trump administration is banking on dna temple. Ralston npr news.

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