- President-elect Joe Biden plans to release all available doses of coronavirus vaccine when he takes office on Jan. 20, CNN reported.
- The Trump administration is currently holding back half of the supplies to ensure there will be enough for two shots per person.
- But some public health experts say the United States could be more generous with current supplies, as vaccine production is unlikely to stop.
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U.S. officials face a difficult choice when the vaccine begins to be distributed: They can either get as many doses as possible in their hands, or hold back enough to make sure that anyone who receives the first shot is guaranteed the second.
The Trump administration chose the second approach. So far, federal officials have not shipped approximately half of the available stock of vaccines.
Neither Moderna nor Pfizer is fully effective unless you receive two doses. Modern̵
However, some public health experts believe that the chances of this disaster are low and say that the United States should not be so careful with its current supplies.
So President-elect Joe Biden plans to release all available doses of vaccines when he takes office on Jan. 20, CNN reported on 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,” Biden’s transition spokesman TJ Ducklo told reporters. CNN. “He supports the immediate release of available doses and believes the government must stop holding off vaccine supplies so that we can now get more shots in the hands of Americans.”
However, the strategy may face the same obstacles as the current dissemination process. Public health departments are simultaneously battling the tsunami of coronavirus patients while controlling the giant spread of vaccines. Many health departments lack staff to fire large batches, so the arrival of even more doses can be an additional challenge.
As of Thursday, the United States has not yet administered 15.5 million of the 21.4 million doses distributed so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Currently, proposing changes to FDA-approved dosages or schedules for these vaccines is premature and is not firmly rooted in the available evidence,” said Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, and Dr. Peter Marx, director of the FDA’s Center for Biology. research, CNN said in a statement. “Without adequate data to support such changes in vaccine use, we risk endangering public health by undermining historical vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19.”
The benefits of a riskier strategy
In the UK, staff have decided to postpone second doses for up to 12 weeks to give as many first doses as possible. The United Kingdom is aiming to release 2 million photos a week by the end of January, the BBC reported. So far, only 1.5 million people in the UK have been vaccinated.
Biden’s strategy is different. He does not intend to prolong the window between the two doses. Instead, he suggests that manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies will continually deliver more doses in accordance with their contracts.
In contrast, federal officials and members of the FDA’s advisory committee are currently “planning a scenario in which we cannot produce a single dose of vaccine for months because we have a catastrophe,” said Dr. Ashish Ja, dean of the school. Brown University Public Health told Business Insider.
“This cannot be our scenario we are planning,” he said. “We need to be able to consider and get more doses.”
Read more: What’s next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here are the latest for 11 leading programs.
Last month, Pfizer CEO Albert Burla told CNN that the company was set to deliver 100 million doses to the United States in the first quarter of 2021. By the end of July, the company expects to deliver all 200 million doses purchased.
Moderna, meanwhile, expects to deliver 85 to 100 million doses to the United States in the first quarter of 2021, with the goal of delivering all 200 million purchased by the federal government by the end of June.
“We can make some hedges that say we need to keep some doses, but accept that our production will not collapse completely for months and months,” Ja said.
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that distributing as many first doses as possible would help the United States prevent more natural infections. To date, the United States vaccinates about 1.5 million people a week. But the study found that if the United States delivered 6 million doses a week for eight weeks and withheld only 10 percent of the doses in the first three of those weeks, the country could reduce coronavirus cases by 29 percent.
“We find that in most plausible scenarios, a more balanced approach that retains fewer doses during early distribution to vaccinate more people as soon as possible can significantly increase the benefits of vaccines while allowing most recipients should receive second doses on a schedule, “the researchers wrote.
Federal officials also hope that the one-time shooting of Johnson and Johnson could receive permission from the United States next month. The company aims to produce 1 billion doses in 2021.
Hillary Brook contributed to the reporting.