United States has no supply of Covid-19 vaccines despite Trump administration claims, report says
Although it has promised this week to release dozens of additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, the federal government does not really have a reserve of additional shots, the Washington post Key public health officials reported on Friday fear that vaccines may not be available more than expected and are dashing hopes to speed up the pace of vaccinations.
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar agreed on Tuesday release everything available Covid-19 vaccine doses, instead of storing millions of doses to be used as a second injection (Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require patients to receive two injections), a widely anticipated decision accelerate the rhythm of vaccinations.
Despite this apparent policy change, the federal government had already started releasing all available doses by the end of December, meaning the government did not actually accumulate a vaccine surplus, the To post reported, citing state and federal officials.
The revelation frustrated state public health officials, some of whom expected Azar’s announcement to lead to an immediate increase in vaccine supplies and planned to make more residents eligible for vaccinations as a result.
Oregon health director Patrick Allen called the pivot “extremely disturbing” and warned the state may have to put aside plans to start immunizing the elderly immediately, in a letter to Azar obtained by Forbes (the To post first reported on Allen’s letter).
A spokesperson for HHS told the To post the final doses of vaccine that were in reserve were dispatched last weekend, but states still have not used all available vaccines (HHS did not respond to questions from Forbes).
Ashish Jha, professor of public health at Brown University who has critical the slower-than-expected pace of vaccinations, said the revelation of the lack of vaccine supply “puts us months behind what I thought we were.”
What to watch out for
President-elect Joe Biden promised last week To release all available vaccine doses when he takes office, the makers of Paris will be able to provide second doses to patients later, a strategy Azar adopted earlier this week despite the caller initially risky. But if the federal government has already released most of the doses it held in reserve, Biden’s plan is unlikely to immediately increase the vaccine supply.
12.3 million. This is the number of Americans who have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures published on Friday. About 31.2 million doses have been distributed to states, which means states still haven’t put the vast majority of available doses in patient arms.
The United States is far from his goal to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of 2020, and many health officials are frustrated that vaccinations are not progressing faster, especially as infections and deaths from Covid-19 increase in the nationwide. Some public health experts have focused on the offer, squeeze vaccine manufacturers to pick up the pace and urge the federal government to send doses to individual states more quickly, which led to Biden and Azar pledging to release all available reserve doses. But officials also say the rollout is also facing delays as vaccination sites do not have enough capacity, which is why millions of doses have been shipped to states but remain unused.