Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, March 2, 2021

The White House

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Hello. Okay. I have quite a few things at the top. Lots of news happening here at the White House.

Today, in our COVID team’s weekly meeting with the governors, we announced another supply increase for states, tribes, and territories — from 14.5 to 15.2 million doses per week. This is up from 8.6 million when we came into office. Furthermore, states are also receiving 2.8 million of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, so they are receiving a total of 18 million doses.

Later today, President Biden will deliver remarks on the status of our COVID-19 response, and he will announce an unprecedented, historic step: The two largest healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, Merck and Johnson & Johnson — usually competitors — are coming together to expand production of the vaccine — Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine drug substance, as well as increase its fill-finish capacity. They will enter into a historic manufacturing partnership to expand that, I should say.

The U.S. government will facilitate this partnership in several key ways, including invoking the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safely manufacture the vaccine, and asking the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts.

And, of course, he’ll have more to say on that later this afternoon.

Also today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing key conclusions from an intelligence community assessment on the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny, as well as measures to hold Russia accountable for this action.

The intelligence community assesses with “high confidence” that officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service used a nerve agent to poison Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny on August 20, 2020. The use of any chemical weapon directly violates international legal obligations and norms of civilized conduct. And our actions today fall into a number of categories and reflect a whole-of-government response.

We are also working with Congress to ensure we’re faithfully implementing the Chemical and Biological Weapons Act.

Today, the United States is announcing sanctions on seven senior members of the Russian government, an expansion of sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, new export restrictions on items that could be used for biological agent and chemical production, and visa restrictions.

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