Vaccine demand has skyrocketed as the United States, where record deaths have occurred COVID-19 And the threat of new, more infectious forms. After a slow start in December, many states and cities have grown rapidly Vaccination Distribution, broadening access to large groups of people and establishing large-scale testing sites.
But now a new wrinkle has arrived: some mayors and governors say they have run out of available vaccines, and have had to cancel appointments.
The Biden administration has promised to complete the nation’s staggering vaccine effort, but only so much can be done to increase the available supply.
Here you need to know.
How many doses are available?
There is not enough quantity of authorized vaccines to meet the huge demand. And this is unlikely to change for the next few months.
Two companies, along with the authorized vaccine, Modern and Pfizer, have promised to provide 100 million vaccine doses to the United States by the end of March, or 100 million people enough to get the required two shots.
But that does not mean that those 200 million doses are sitting somewhere in a factory warehouse, waiting to be shipped. The two companies are manufacturing doses at full capacity, and collectively releasing between 12 million and 18 million doses each week.
By Wednesday, About 36 million doses Pfizer and Modern vaccines were distributed to state and local governments. However, only 16.5 million shots were given to patients.
But as local health officials become more adept at vaccine delivery, they will eventually catch limited supplies. Some local officials, New York City includes, Said that they are already getting to that point, and had to cancel appointments because they said they did not have enough.
President Biden said that he would use the Defense Production Act to increase supply. Will it help
Vaccine experts and companies themselves have said that using the Defense Production Act, at least in the short term, will not significantly increase supply, although every small one can help. This is because manufacturing facilities are already at or near capacity, and there is a worldwide race to develop vaccines that use a finite amount of resources.
Although the Trump Administration’s Defense Production Act was not criticized for aggressively increasing production of test supplies and protective gear, did Use the act multiple times Give priority to vaccine manufacturers For suppliers of raw materials and equipment.
In The plan was released on Thursday, The Biden administration indicated that it would continue to use the Act to boost supplies needed for vaccine manufacture, as well as other materials needed to vaccinate millions. Although the plan provided few details, the production of a particular syringe is increasing, citing an example That six doses can squeeze Of Pfizer’s vials that were originally included in five.
What about federal stocks of vaccines?
There is no significant stock of vaccines, so to speak. For the most part, vaccines are shipped out every week as they are manufactured. (The exception is a small emergency reserve that the Biden administration has said will continue.)
Last week, Alex M., the outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services. Azar II, chaos created When he announced that the federal government would release a reserve amount of the vaccine dose. Many states said they were told that the vaccine inflow was on the way, which could be used to vaccinate more people.
At his news conference, Mr. Azar urged the states to open up their immunization policies, and said they were moving too slowly to use the doses already sent. As a result, Andrew M. in New York. Many governors, including Cuomo, changed the eligibility rules to allow people 65 and older to vaccinate.
However, senior administration officials clarified last Friday that all of those reserved doses had already been kept as booster shots for those who had received the vaccine, and that Mr. Azar had just been a logical extension. Were in the process. Of delivery policy The shipment was commenced in December, by top federal officials. The release of the reserve dose would go to those who needed their second dose, not the new pool of people who were getting their first shot.
Going forward, Mr. Azar said, the government would make changes to a new model: instead of keeping on a reserve of booster shots, each weekly shipment from manufacturers would include a dose for new ones as well as a second dose due to their boosters. Shots. President Biden echoed that policy in announcing his vaccine plan last week.
Will there be enough vaccine supply to give everyone a second dose?
Federal officials have previously said they were working with states that have figured out who got the vaccine, and when they are due to their booster shots, which is three weeks later for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks later The latter is for one.
He has said that each weekly shipment will give priority to those who need their second dose that week, and all that is left will go to vaccinate new people.
But the plan relies on state and federal governments working together and accurately reporting who has received the vaccine, and what is required from week to week. Many state governments have complained that they do not have the resources to carry out the vaccine delivery plan, and the next few weeks will demonstrate how well the system works.
The ensuing Biden administration has vowed to overhaul distribution to the states, providing more transparency to local authorities about how much vaccine they can afford, in hopes of allowing states better planning.
Some Democratic governors have asked Pfizer to buy the vaccine directly. Is it possible
No, it is not likely to happen.
Last week, the Government of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer Asked the federal government For permission to purchase 100,000 doses of vaccine directly from Pfizer. And on Monday, Mr. Cuomo Wrote a letter to Pfizer Ask the state to buy the vaccine directly.
Pfizer and Modern supplies have been fully claimed for at least the first quarter of this year, meaning that it is unlikely that there will be any vaccine to sell to individual states.
In addition, the Emergency Use Authority for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines oversees federal government distribution.
In a statement, a Pfizer spokesman said the company is “open to collaborating with the US Department of Health and Human Services on the delivery model that makes our vaccine available to as many Americans as possible.” But he said that “HHS will need to approve that proposal before we can consider the sale directly to state governments.”
A state official said on Tuesday that the governor felt it was important to end all his options, no matter how likely they were to succeed, and pointed to his efforts in March to buy ventilators directly from manufacturers Did – establish a bid war between states that He later criticized Federal Government for Fuel.
But advisers to the Biden administration have indicated that they are not in favor of such a move. On Monday, an epidemic advisor to Mr. Biden during his presidential transition, Dr. Celine Gounder said that allowing states to access individual deals would create more problems than it would solve.
In an interview on CNBC, Drs. The gounder noted Mr. Cuomo’s earlier criticism of bidding on ventilators. “I think that such an approach to vaccine allocation is clearly going to be in the same position as when he himself, last spring, was criticizing.” said.
Are we going to get more vaccines soon?
Yes, most likely.
At least three other vaccines have been in clinical trials of late, and the success of one of them could mean millions more doses for US residents by this spring.
Johnson & Johnson is expected to announce the results of its vaccine test any day now, and if it was successful, the first dose may be available in the United States by February. Although initial production of the vaccine has waned, the company has signed an agreement to provide 100 million doses of its single-dose vaccine by the end of June.
As of March and April, the results of a trial of two-dose vaccines by AstraZeneca and Novavex can also be made public. AstraZeneca has an arrangement with the US government to deliver 300 million doses, and Novavax to provide 110 million.
What’s more, both Pfizer and Modern say their factories are expanding capacity every week. They have signed deals to supply an additional 100 million doses of each of their vaccines in the second quarter of this year.
When will we have enough vaccines for everyone in the country?
It is still unclear, although conservatively, by summer there may be enough vaccines.
If no other vaccines are authorized, the United States has entered into deals with Pfizer and Moderna over the summer, or for a total of 400 million doses delivered sufficiently to 200 million people.
This is very close to the US population of 260 million adults (vaccines for children are not yet approved, although studies are ongoing).
But if other vaccines prove to be safe and effective – which experts say is likely – millions more may be vaccinated more quickly, possibly late spring.