'Slower than expected': Covid vaccines not being given as quickly as projected
In just nine days, the US is unlikely to meet its original goal of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of the year, members of Operation Warp Speed said Wednesday.
"This goal is unlikely to be achieved," said Moncef Slaoui, scientific advisor to Operation Warp Speed, during a press conference Wednesday. "The vaccination process - arm shots - is slower than we expected."
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What Slaoui's team can commit to is the number of cans to be distributed. "We're getting the vaccines out as quickly as possible," said General Gustave Perna, Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed, during the briefing.
As of Wednesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in the past two weeks.
The data only takes into account recordings of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine administered to date and is likely to be delayed for several days as numbers from hundreds of health and long-term care facilities continue to be reported to the agency.
More than 9.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed nationwide, according to the CDC.
It's unclear why there is such a large gap between the number of doses given to states and the number of shots actually given, though the delay in vendors reporting the data to the CDC may be a reason. While the distribution numbers include both Pfizer and Moderna, the Moderna recordings administered are not yet counted, according to the CDC.
During the briefing, Perna said, "It's about access to the vaccine when it arrives and is carried out."
Perna reckoned that the OWS team would receive around 20 million Covid-19 vaccine doses "by the end of the month", but they would not have been given until the first week of January.
Presumably the rollout had "a few snafus," said Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, during a live-stream "Doc to Doc" interview with NBC News' senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Poland paid tribute to the Operation Warp Speed team. "This is a huge logistical nightmare to plan," he said.
The vaccines are rolled out as the nation continues to set records for both Covid-19 cases and related deaths. On Tuesday, the nation saw a record 3,350 coronavirus-related deaths in a single day. Since the pandemic began, more than 325,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the U.S. and more than 18 million people have been diagnosed.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced it would buy another 100 million doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine to ensure that any American who wants to be vaccinated can be by the summer.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced that Pfizer will manufacture and supply up to 100 million doses of the vaccine, in addition to the 100 million doses already purchased by the US government.
"It is good news that more vaccines will be available," said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Co-Chair of the Covid-19 Advisory Board of President-Elect Biden, on MSNBC on Wednesday. "We are on our way to our goal of 1 million vaccinations per day."
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