WASHINGTON (AP) – President-elect Joe Biden will release the most doses of vaccine against COVID-19 to speed up the delivery of more people, a reversal of the Trump administration’s approach, his office said Friday.
“The president-elect believes we need to accelerate the spread of the vaccine, while continuing to ensure that Americans who need it most receive it as soon as possible,” spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement. Biden “supports the immediate release of available doses and believes that the government must stop holding off vaccine supplies so that we can now get more shots in the hands of the Americans.”
According to the Trump administration’s approach, the government has withheld millions of doses of vaccine to ensure that people can get a second shot, which provides maximum protection against COVID-19. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require a relapse about three weeks after the first vaccination. Disposable vaccines are still being tested.
Following a glimmer of hope when the first vaccines were approved last month, the national inoculation campaign began slowly. Of the 29.4 million distributed doses, about 5.9 million, or 27%, were administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden has already indicated his displeasure. In a speech last week, before his election victory was confirmed by Congress, the president-elect said he intended to speed up vaccinations by forcing the federal government to take a stronger role in making sure vaccines are not only available but and that the shots in the arms of more Americans.
“The Trump administration’s plan to spread vaccines is far behind,” Biden said. “If it continues to move as it does now, it will take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”
The American Hospital Association estimates that the nation will have to vaccinate 1.8 million people a day, every day from January 1 to May 31, to achieve the goal of having widespread immunity by the summer. This is also called ‘herd immunity’ and would involve vaccinating at least 75% of the population.
Without elaborating, Biden said his administration would conduct a much more aggressive vaccination campaign, with greater involvement and leadership from federal authorities, and the goal of delivering 100 million shots in the first 100 days.
He said he and Vice President Kamala Harris were talking to state and local leaders about a coordinated approach that unites the efforts of governments at all levels. Among the specifics: opening vaccination centers and sending mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach communities.
“The most important thing is that there is no coordinated national plan,” Biden adviser Dr Rick Bright told the Associated Press.
Biden’s transition office said its experts believe that pushing out the available vaccine as soon as possible will not create problems for people who need their second dose. Biden will not hesitate to use Cold War law to direct private industry to supply vaccine materials if necessary, his office said.
Biden announced his plan to push more vaccines after eight Democratic governors wrote to the Trump administration on Friday, urging it to do so.
“Currently, the federal government has seized more than 50% of the vaccines currently produced,” the governors wrote. “While some of these life-saving vaccines sit in Pfizer’s freezers, our nation is losing 2,661 Americans every day, according to the latest seven-day average. The non-distribution of these doses among the countries that require them is unfair and unacceptable. We urge the federal government to start distributing these reserved doses to the states immediately. “
The letter was signed by the governments. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gavin Newsom of California, Laura Kelly of Kansas, JB Pritzker of Illinois, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Andrew Cuomo of New York, Jay Inslee of Washington, and Tony Evers of Wisconsin.
As the winter wave of the pandemic pushes deaths to record levels and hospitals congested in cities and towns, some have called on the government to allow the use of just one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This would really boost immunity.
However, government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the vaccines should continue to be used as prescribed with their urgent approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The two-shot mode provides about 95% protection.
More than 365,000 Americans have died as a result of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The average seven-day positivity rate for the nation continues to rise from Christmas to 13.6% on Thursday, according to the COVID follow-up project. This is well over 10%, considered a marker of widespread infection.
Biden’s spokesman, Duclos, said the president-elect would share further details on how his administration would engage in the pandemic when he takes office on January 20th.
Biden’s plan to change the vaccine distribution plan was first reported by CNN.