Biden Covid adviser says plan to release most vaccine doses will not cause shortage of second injections

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Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are ready to ship to the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, United States, December 20, 2020.

Paul Sancya | Reuters

The Biden administration’s plan to distribute nearly all available doses of Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines to states is not expected to cause supply problems in the future, a member of the Covid-19 advisory board said on Thursday. by President-elect Joe Biden.

The advisory team has had numerous conversations with vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, among others, about supply issues, said Dr Celine Gounder, who sits on the committee and is an infectious disease specialist. at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Barring an unforeseen “manufacturing snafu”, the Biden administration is “confident” that there will be no problems getting people to get their second injection on time, she said.

“It’s not something that worries us too much,” Gounder told the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health during a webcast Thursday afternoon. “If you look at the production schedule, they’re actually going to release more and more doses over time, so that really opens things up significantly.”

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Gounder’s comment comes hours before Biden unveiled his plan to vaccinate the American population and end the pandemic that has killed at least 385,503 Americans in nearly a year. Biden criticized the Trump administration’s vaccine deployment strategy, saying that at the current rate “it will take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”

The pace of vaccinations in the United States is much slower than officials had hoped. As of 9 a.m.ET as of Wednesday, more than 29.3 million doses of vaccine had been distributed in the United States, but just over 10.2 million vaccines had been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number falls short of the federal government’s goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 and 50 million Americans by the end of this month.

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Some state governors, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have complained about the availability of doses, saying the lack of vaccines has inhibited their ability to vaccinate people.

The Trump administration on Tuesday adopted Biden’s plan to release most of the doses it had withheld for the second round of two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

General Gustave Perna, who oversees the logistics of President Donald Trump’s vaccination program Operation Warp Speed, had previously said that setting aside spare doses of Covid was “good planning by general army officers”, in making sure the right people can get vaccines when needed.

In an effort to speed up the pace of vaccinations, the Trump administration has also changed the way it allocates vaccine doses to states, and the CDC has expanded vaccine eligibility to all people 65 years of age and older as well as ” those with comorbid conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. .

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Some public health experts have questioned whether companies can make more doses before people need their second injection.

Gounder said Thursday that the administration still plans to keep a “small pad” of doses in reserve.

“What we are saying is that we are not going to hold back the second doses of vaccine. We are going to distribute almost all with a little pad left over because we want to speed up the rate of the vaccinations,” she told me. . “It really is a decision on how to manage the supply. It is not a recommendation on the vaccination dose or the schedule.”

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