Covid vaccine update: US does not reach 20 million doses by the end of the year

A resident receives a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Miami, December 29th.

Photographer: Eva Marie Uzcategui / Bloomberg

The U.S. has vaccinated an average of only 200,000 people a day against Covid-19, and many states have used only a small percentage of the shipments sent to them this month.

Data collected from states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that although Operation Warp Speed ​​distributed millions of doses, some states were slow to get it into people’s arms. According to a Bloomberg analysis, the country will almost certainly not meet the Trump administration’s goal of reaching 20 million vaccinations by the end of the year.

The CDC’s latest version of Monday shows that despite the distribution of 11.45 million doses of Moderna Inc., and of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, only 2.13 million people got shots. This represents about 20% of the early awards. Oregon used only 15.3% of its supply, Ohio 14.3% and Maryland 10.9%.

Officials blame a delicate vaccine with complicated storage requirements, uncertainty over the supply of doses and stress on local health institutions that are already facing historical challenges.

“We want a better survey,” said Steve Kelso, a spokesman for the Kent County Health Department in Michigan, where the state used 18.5 percent of its doses. “We can put more needles in the arms.”

How many of their grants use statements?

Analysis shows variations in how fast conditions work through vaccine

Source: State Panels and Public Commentary, U.S. Government Data

More than 330,000 Americans have died from the pandemic, and tens of thousands more are expected to succumb in the coming months, making the vaccine’s deployment all the more critical. But Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said last week that the goal of getting 20 million people vaccinated by the end of the year is unlikely to be met.

In recent weeks, countries around the world have launched vaccination campaigns in a global race to end the pandemic. Some far surpass the US: Israel, whose size and population are similar to that of New Jersey, shot an average of 60,000 people a day in the first week. If the US moves at the same speed, they do 2.2 million vaccinations daily – ten times its current rate.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that the reported numbers do not reflect the latest situation.

“We are closely monitoring the data reported by the jurisdictions regarding the administration of vaccines, and we are encouraged by the work they have done so far during the holidays,” said Michael Pratt. “There is an expected delay between shots going into the arms and the data being reported.”

President Donald Trump reiterated in a tweet Tuesday night that “it is up to the States to distribute the vaccines.”

But President-elect Joe Biden said in an earlier speech that “the effort to spread the vaccine is not progressing as it should” and that he will “move heaven and earth to move us in the right direction” .

Biden said his government would achieve 100 million shots in its first 100 days if Congress provided funding. “If it continues to move as it is now, it will take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people,” he said.

Shots in the arms

According to the US, there is a count of 2.1 million vaccinations

Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Michigan’s Muddle

Bloomberg News analyzed the first three awards to states, including two weeks of Pfizer shots and one from Moderna. In some cases, the total grants are higher than what states say they received. The number of doses dispensed corresponds to that distributed according to the CDC, enabling consistent comparisons per state.

According to Bloomberg’s analysis, Michigan used less than 1 in 5 of its 455,900 doses allotted until December 21st.

“The lack of certainty about vaccine allocation, the timing of purchases and the process of planning thousands of employees for vaccination has made it challenging,” said John Karasinski, spokesman for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Kent County, which includes Grand Rapids, has formed a group of health departments, hospitals and pharmacies with the goal of vaccinating about 2,200 people in the first phase, which is targeted at health workers. So far, only about 575 vaccinations have been done.

Spokesman Kelso said some employees did not want to deprive a real front-line vaccine. The holidays may be slowing things down. And some people are still cunning about safety, even some of the staff of the health department.

“A lot of people don’t want to be the first child in the block,” Kelso said.

Other groups achieve more success. Sparrow Health System has vaccinated about a quarter of its staff, Todd Belding, director of pharmacies, said in an interview. The central hospital system in Michigan is administered about 2,000 doses a week, about as much as the state grant, he said.

The phase-out is slower than the shots were available to all people, such as the flu vaccine. This is a measure of delay: hospitals do not want to vaccinate entire departments in case of side effects forcing workers. But Sparrow also coordinates with officials to target populations such as medical staff in the prison and independent health workers. Identifying and reaching such groups takes time, a challenge that will continue when vaccinations for grocery workers and teachers drip.

“The prioritization has added some complexity,” Belding said.

Other states are moving more slowly. According to Bloomberg’s analysis, on December 28, Maryland worked through only 10.9% of its 191,075 doses.

In Montgomery County, Travis Gayles, head of public health, said he was preparing for obstacles such as staff shortages. Years of budget cuts have cut off municipalities’ ability to rebuild effective viral responses – Montgomery has been measuring virus cases by fax – and the cuts could also hamper the spread of vaccines.

“With Covid, it currently sheds a bright light on the impact of budget decisions,” Gayles said.

In New York, officials are monitoring vaccination sites and giving “gentle pressure to pick them up,” said Larry Schwartz, a member of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Covid-19 task force. A portion of the state grant goes to pharmacies that the federal government vaccinates residents and staff of nursing homes, and that may have taken them time to get ready, Schwartz said.

“Like everything that is brand new, there is always a bit of a training period,” he said.

Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, said the Trump administration’s confidence in states hampered the response. The Warp Speed ​​program has miraculously succeeded in helping develop and distribute a vaccine, “but at that point it hit a roadblock.”

“Let’s we build hospitals and tents everywhere and the National Guard will do that,” Jha said in a telephone interview. ‘That last kilometer received very little investment. I think this is going to be a big problem. ”

related to US vaccinations at 200,000 per day, far short of 'Warp Speed'

Private institutions struggle, even those that perform relatively well. In Virginia, which generally used about 15% of its early allocation, Sentara Healthcare gave about 60% of its doses, said Jordan Asher, CEO of the 12-hospital system. The internal goal was to spread it over three weeks, and Asher said Sentara is slightly ahead of schedule.