US shifts to speed vaccinations; won’t hold back 2nd doses

Henrietta Brewer
January 13, 2021

Of the 25.4 million first doses distributed to states so far, just 8.9 million had been injected into arms, or 35 percent.

Hitching state allocations to the pace of vaccinations could make it much harder for states to schedule vaccine clinics, critics said. But Operation Warp Speed, the USA effort to fast-track the development and distribution of vaccine, now estimates it will take until the end of March before it has 200 million doses to distribute. He has pledged to inoculate one million New Yorkers by the end of this month.

Moderna - the company that created one of the two COVID-19 vaccines that were approved late previous year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use - said on Monday that it will pursue the development of three new vaccines: one for the seasonal flu, one for HIV, and one for Nipah virus using mRNA technology, according to a news release. Mr Biden takes office next Wednesday.

Both vaccines - which require two shots per person - have begun to be administered to Canadians as the first two deemed safe by Health Canada, though safety and efficacy reviews are underway for two additional vaccine candidates.

The Trump administration said on Tuesday it is releasing millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses it had been holding back for second shots and urged states to offer them to all Americans over age 65 or with chronic health conditions.

"There are already cases where states have moved and said we are vaccinating 65 [and older], and they just do not have a vaccine to do it or they don't have vaccinators to do it", she said.

"If we can do it even quicker than that, that would be great news".

"We are calling on our governors to now vaccinate people aged 65 and over, and under age 65 with a (health condition) because we have got to expand the group", he said.

Each state has its own plan for who should be vaccinated, based on CDC recommendations that gave first priority to health care workers and nursing home residents. "Then we manufactured more the first week of January", Bourla said.

States in recent days have been increasing vaccination capacity with the ad hoc conversion of sports venues, convention halls and empty schools into vaccine centres.

Los Angeles County, with a population of about 10 million people, has been an epicentre of the latest surge of the outbreak in the U.S., with cases and deaths soaring since early November and many hospitals overwhelmed.

"This deadly virus continues to spread at alarming rates".

"In our negotiations with the vaccine manufacturers, they, of course, are concerned when the recommended doses, based on their clinical trials, are not being followed", Anand said.

Texas and Florida have been vaccinating people over the age of 65 since late last month, although reports from those states have indicated that demand has far outstripped appointments.

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