Vaccinations pick up speed
The CDC recorded its greatest daily increase in vaccinations on Friday, having administered around 1.6 million more doses.This brings the total number of administered doses given to a little over 19 million.
According to CDC data, 1 million additional shots were given between Wednesday and Thursday, which marks the second time more than 1 million doses were administered in a day. Moreover, the number of doses administered last week rose 22% higher than those given the week before.
Struggles with vaccine supply
As vaccinations pick up speed, more states are reporting struggles with vaccine supplies. While New York will be running out of almost 97% of its first doses by Friday, Louisiana hasn’t even set up a mass vaccination site due to lack of enough vaccines.
This wrinkle could be ironed out quickly if only the federal government had enough supply of vaccines. But the demand for vaccines is currently much higher than the supply and the situation is expected to remain this way for a few more months.
The two authorized vaccine companies,Moderna and Pfizer, have both agreed to make a 100 million more doses available to the US by the end of March. At the very least, the companies will provide enough to vaccinate another 100 million people with both doses.
Both companies are manufacturing vaccines at full capacity and releasing between 12 million and 18 million doses every week.
In the meantime, a third vaccine candidate from Johnson & Johnson’s is said to be “right around the corner.” In fact, according to Dr. Fauci the company is now seeking emergency approval from the FDA. He said,
“They're probably a couple of weeks away from getting the data looked at, to have the FDA evaluate whether or not we're in a situation where we could move ahead and start thinking about getting it out into the public.”
If Johnson & Johnson’s receives approval, it will be delivering 100 million vaccines to the US by spring. And the added benefit of this vaccine will be that it will comprise of a single dose.
Race between vaccines and new variants
Covid cases as well as hospitalizations have steadily declined by 21% across the nation in the last couple of weeks. But health authorities are growing wary about the quick emergence of new variants. Being more contagious, these variants could suddenly pick momentum and spread faster than the authorities can distribute vaccines.
Public health officials have thus likened this predicament to a race between vaccinations and the new covid variants. The outcome of this turning point could mean that cases could either continue to decline or the country will have its hands full with a much deadlier surge. Commenting on this situation, epidemiologist Caitlin M. Rivers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says,
“We’re definitely on a downward slope, but I’m worried that the new variants will throw us a curveball in late February or March.”
Here’s hoping vaccine distributing and administering comes out the winner.
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