Even Though US Now Has Enough Vaccines For Entire Population, “Immense” Logistic Challenges Abound
President Joe Biden speaking at the National Institutes of Health on Thursday.

The United States government has now secured enough COVID-19 vaccines to vaccinate every American adult after purchasing an additional 100 million doses each from Pfizer and Moderna, President Joe Biden said Thursday However, currently vaccines are in short supply across the country and logistic challenges abound. 

Biden used the option in the contracts negotiated last year to seek additional doses, which will bring the total number of doses to be supplied by each company to the US to 300 million, meaning that there will be sufficient doses for 300 million people. 

“We’ve now purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all Americans. And now we’re working to get those vaccines into the arms of millions of people,” said President Biden during an appearance at the National Institutes of Health. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 24 million individuals have received the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and over 22 million have received the Moderna vaccine since they were both granted emergency use authorization in mid-December by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Both companies have agreed to expedite the delivery of vaccines for the summer. 

Moderna has supplied the government with 41 million doses so far and is reportedly on track to deliver the first 100 million doses by March, the second order of 100 million doses in May, and the new order of 100 million doses by the end of July. 

“We appreciate the confidence that the U.S. government has demonstrated in our COVID-19 vaccine,” said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, in a press release. “We continue to scale up our manufacturing capability, both in and outside of the United States. Our goal is to bring our vaccine to as many people as possible around the world to help end this pandemic.”

Similarly, Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, expressed his support for the new administration’s plan to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible and said, “we are pleased to work with the administration to provide these additional vaccines, so that more Americans receive their first and second doses as soon as possible.”

Earlier on Thursday, Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, predicted that any American could get a vaccine as early as April. 

Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview with NBC’s Today Show on Thursday.

“I would image by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, ‘open season,’” said Dr Fauci in an interview with NBC’s Today show. 

Logistical and Operational Challenges Remain

However, the country is still facing numerous challenges and the government is attempting to do “everything that’s needed to get vaccines into people’s arms,” including investing more in testing, tracing, the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines, and setting up vaccination sites, said Biden.

“We remain in the teeth of this pandemic. January of 2021 was the deadliest month we’ve had. We lost over 100,000 of our fellow citizens. We’re on track to cross 500,000 dead Americans this next month,” said President Biden.

Many areas have reported vaccine shortages, with Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti announcing on Wednesday the temporarily closure of five mass vaccination sites and describing the vaccine supply as uneven and unpredictable. 

Los Angeles’ supply of COVID-19 vaccines is “exhausted,” leading five mass vaccination sites to temporarily close.

Staffing issues are expected to arise as the new vaccines become available in the coming months. In an attempt to solve this challenge, retired doctors and nurses will be allowed to administer the jabs. 

In addition, drugstores and grocery store pharmacies will play an increasing role in national vaccination efforts, with a plan to include 40,000 sites for inoculations. Vaccines will be delivered directly to approximately 6,500 retail pharmacies beginning on Friday. 

In the face of the logistic challenges and the spread of the SARS-CoV2 variants, Biden pushed for continued compliance with existing public health measures. 

“Masking is still the easiest thing to do to save lives,” said President Biden. “I know it’s a pain in the neck, but it’s a patriotic responsibility. We’re in the middle of a war with this virus…We need everyone to do their part for themselves, their loved ones, and yes, for their country.”

“Mask up, America. Mask up,” he urged.

Biden’s emphasis on the importance of mask wearing followed the release of the CDC’s new guidance on masks, recommending the use of double masks or tightly fitting masks, which it says can filter out over 90% of SARS-CoV2 viruses.

On Friday, the CDC also provided new guidelines on the reopening of K-12 schools, laying out the mitigation measures that should be put in place to reduce the risk of transmission. The issue of reopening schools is highly debated among parents, teachers, and public health officials.

The five key mitigation measures are: universal and correct use of masks, physical distancing, handwashing, cleaning of surfaces, and contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine.

The “CDC’s operational strategy is grounded in science and the best available evidence,” Dr Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, told reporters on Friday.

Image Credits: ABC7 News, ABC27 News, NBC.

Combat the infodemic in health information and support health policy reporting from the global South. Our growing network of journalists in Africa, Asia, Geneva and New York connect the dots between regional realities and the big global debates, with evidence-based, open access news and analysis. To make a personal or organisational contribution click here on PayPal.