Anthony Fauci, the top expert on infectious diseases in the US, on Thursday called on the federal government to use more resources to vaccinate Americans after the country aims to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of the year, missed.
“We would like to see it run smoothly and have 20 million doses of people today, by the end of 2020, which was the forecast,” Fauci said.
“It obviously did not happen, and it’s disappointing,” he said in an interview with NBC.
The failure of the US to reach its target for the distribution of vaccines by the end of the year is due to concerns about the newly identified strain of Covid-19 circulating in the UK, which is reportedly reaching the US it, with cases in Colorado and California.
In the U.S., more than 14 million doses of vaccines have been distributed, but only 2.1 million people have been vaccinated, leaders of the federal vaccine program, Operation Warp Speed, said at a Wednesday news conference.
Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said: “We know it needs to get better and we are working hard to make it better.”
The 2.1m figure is probably an underestimation due to overdue reporting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday that 2.6 million people had received their first dose.
Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid), said the federal government should provide more resources to the local governments that have to administer the vaccine, to increase the distribution of vaccines.
“The states, the cities, the provinces, the places where the vaccine actually goes into the arms of individuals,” Fauci said. “We need to support local groups, states and cities to help them accomplish this task.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, 19.7 million cases of Covid-19 have been recorded and more than 342,400 people have died from the infection..
December was the deadliest month since the pandemic began in 2020, and health officials warned that January could be worse.
Fauci said it was “inevitable” that the new variant, called B.1.1.7, would arrive in the US due to the high level of infections in the country.
He said that although the new variant is more effective at spreading it to humans, it did not show any signs of being more harmful and that it does not show the ability to evade the protection of the vaccines used. “The good news is that it no longer seems to be virulent, namely to make people sicker and lead to more deaths,” Fauci said.
The new variant was identified in a Colorado man in his twenties who works as a national guard member who supports a nursing home. According to the health department, he had no travel history.
Although the new variant was only found in the US this week, the CDC said it was probably already circulating across the country. The agency said the variant had not been identified in its sequencing efforts, but its laboratories only have access to a few Covid-19 cases in the country and may not have recorded it yet.
The US has recorded more cases and deaths over coronavirus than any other country. Elected President Joe Biden on Tuesday was critical of the Trump administration’s efforts to distribute vaccines.
“A few weeks ago, the Trump administration proposed that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated by the end of December,” Biden said. “With only a few days left in December, we have only vaccinated a few million so far.”
Fauci said he hopes the distribution of vaccines will increase in the first weeks of January.
“Hopefully, if we look forward to 2021, if we get far in the year, with a combination of vaccines and the proper adherence to public health measures, we can end this matter and crush it, just as we did with other outbreaks such as polio. and measles and other major infectious diseases, ”Fauci said. “So that’s the goal and hopefully we will achieve it.”