How the U.S. Could Double Vaccination Pace With Existing Supply

How the U.S. Could Double Vaccination Pace With Existing Supply

President Biden’s promise to administer 100 million vaccines by his 100th day in office is no longer a lofty goal; it is attainable at the current pace at which shots are going into arms. In fact, some experts have suggested that the president’s ambition is far too modest.

Federal data shows that the United States is already administering about one million doses a day, and even doubling that rate would not cause the country to fall short of distribution capacity or supply.

Here’s how the vaccination campaign could play out if the United States maintains the current pace, assuming that the vaccine makers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna meet their supply agreements and vaccines continue to be distributed at the same rate they have been over the last two weeks.

If vaccinations in the U.S. continue at the current rate

Dec. 14

Jan. 22

Feb. 1

March 1

April 1

April 30

50

100 million doses

Biden 100-day goal

150

200

250 million doses

Estimated supply
(Pfizer and Moderna)

Doses distributed

Doses administered

Note: Data is as of Jan. 22. Projections are based on the average increase in the number of doses administered in the past two weeks. | Sources: C.D.C. (vaccine distribution and administration); company press releases and news reports (vaccine supply).

Mr. Biden made the 100-day pledge in early December, before any vaccine had been authorized for use in the United States. At the time, experts called the goal “optimistic” given their concerns about manufacturing and distribution capacity.

Since then, two vaccines have been approved and the United States has secured contracts for deliveries of doses through July. And while some jurisdictions have said that they are running out of doses, states and U.S. territories are using only about half of the shots that the federal government has shipped to them, on average.

Some experts have suggested that Mr. Biden increase his goal to match the supply promised by manufacturers. Pfizer and Moderna have pledged to deliver a combined 200 million doses by the end of March, with an additional 200 million doses to be delivered by the end of July.

Under those circumstances, it is feasible that up to two million doses could be given per day, and Mr. Biden’s goal of 100 million shots could be reached by early March.

If vaccinations in the U.S. increased to a rate of two million per day

Dec. 14

Jan. 22

Feb. 1

March 1

April 1

April 30

50

100 million doses

Biden 100-day goal

150

200

250 million doses

Estimated supply
(Pfizer and Moderna)

Doses distributed

Doses administered

Note: Data is as of Jan. 22. Projections are based on an immediate increase in vaccine administration rates and do not account for the approval and rollout of new vaccines. | Sources: C.D.C. (vaccine distribution and administration); company press releases and news reports (vaccine supply).

But ramping up vaccinations will not be easy. And national supply and distribution figures do not reflect the often complicated local realities.

“The complexity of administering vaccines may grow over the coming weeks as we open up a lot of new provider sites,” said Dr. Julie Swann, an industrial and systems engineering professor at North Carolina State University who was an adviser to the C.D.C. during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

Getting shots in arms has already been hard, Dr. Swann noted. Providers get little notice of how much vaccine they will receive, making it difficult to plan and set up appointments. Estimating demand can be tricky too, which means that vaccines may be used more quickly in some locations than others, leading to wasted doses.

“The administration needs to be both fighting immediate fires and putting in the infrastructure to make this work better, too,” Dr. Swann said.

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