U.S. Vaccine Supply: What to Know

U.S. Vaccine Supply: What to Know

Demand
for
vaccines
is
skyrocketing
as
the
United
States
grapples
with
a
record
death
toll
from
Covid-19
and
the
threat
of
new,
more
contagious
variants.
After
a
slow
start
in
December,
many
states
and
cities
have
quickly
ramped
up
vaccine
delivery,
widening
access
to
larger
groups
of
people
and
setting
up
mass
testing
sites.

But
now
there’s
a
new
wrinkle:
Some
mayors
and
governors
say
they
have
run
out
of
available
vaccines,
and
have
had
to
cancel
appointments.

The
Biden
administration
has
promised
to
overhaul
the
country’s
faltering
vaccine
effort,
but
there’s
only
so
much
it
can
do
to
increase
the
available
supply.

Here’s
what
you
need
to
know.

There
are
simply
not
enough
doses
of
authorized
vaccines
to
meet
the
enormous
demand.
And
that
is
not
likely
to
change
for
the
next
few
months.

The
two
companies
with
authorized
vaccines,
Moderna
and
Pfizer,
have
each
promised
to
provide
the
United
States
with
100
million
vaccine
doses
by
the
end
of
March,
or
enough
for
100
million
people
to
get
the
necessary
two
shots.

But
that
doesn’t
mean
those
200
million
doses
are
sitting
in
a
factory
warehouse
somewhere,
waiting
to
be
shipped.
Both
companies
are
manufacturing
the
doses
at
full
capacity,
and
are
collectively
releasing
between
12
million
and
18
million
doses
each
week.

As
of
Wednesday,

nearly
36
million
doses
of
the
Pfizer
and
Moderna
vaccines
had
been
distributed
to
state
and
local
governments.
However,
only
about
16.5
million
shots
had
been
administered
to
patients.

But
as
local
health
authorities
become
more
adept
at
vaccine
distribution,
they
will
eventually
catch
up
to
the
limited
supply.
Some
local
officials,

including
those
in
New
York
City,
have
said
they
are
already
reaching
that
point,
and
have
had
to
cancel
appointments
because
they
said
they
do
not
have
enough.

Vaccine
experts
and
the
companies
themselves
have
said
that
at
least
in
the
short
term,
using
the
Defense
Production
Act
will
not
significantly
increase
supply,
although
every
little
bit
could
help.
That’s
because
manufacturing
facilities
are
already
at
or
near
capacity,
and
there
is
a
worldwide
race
to
develop
vaccines
that
use
a
finite
amount
of
resources.

Although
the
Trump
administration
was
criticized
for
not
using
the
Defense
Production
Act
more
aggressively
to
ramp
up
production
of
testing
supplies
and
protective
gear,
it

did

use
the
act
many
times
to

give
vaccine
manufacturers
priority
access
to
suppliers
of
raw
ingredients
and
equipment.

In
a

plan
released
on
Thursday,
the
Biden
administration
indicated
it
would
continue
to
use
the
act
to
boost
supplies
needed
for
vaccine
manufacturing,
as
well
as
other
materials
that
are
required
to
immunize
tens
of
millions
of
people.
Although
the
plan
provided
few
details,
one
example
cited
is
increasing
production
of
a
special
syringe

that
can
squeeze
six
doses
out
of
Pfizer
vials
that
were
originally
intended
to
contain
five.

There
is
no
significant
reserve
of
vaccines
to
speak
of.
For
the
most
part,
vaccines
are
being
shipped
out
each
week
as
they
are
manufactured.
(The
exception
is
a
small
emergency
stockpile
that
the
Biden
administration
has
said
will
continue.)

Last
week,
Alex
M.
Azar
II,
the
outgoing
secretary
of
health
and
human
services,

stirred
confusion
when
he
announced
that
the
federal
government
would
be
releasing
a
reserve
of
vaccine
doses.
Many
states
said
they
were
told
that
this
meant
an
influx
of
vaccines
was
on
the
way,
which
could
be
used
to
inoculate
more
people.

In
his
news
conference,
Mr.
Azar
urged
states
to
open
up
their
immunization
policies,
and
said
they
had
been
moving
too
slowly
to
use
the
doses
they
had
already
been
sent.
As
a
result,
several
governors,
including
Andrew
Cuomo
in
New
York,
changed
eligibility
rules
to
allow
people
65
and
older
to
get
the
vaccine.

However,
senior
administration
officials
clarified
last
Friday
that
all
of
those
reserve
doses
were
already
earmarked
as
booster
shots
for
people
who
had
gotten
the
vaccine,
and
that
Mr.
Azar
was
just
spelling
out
the
logical
extension

of
a
distribution
policy
that
had
been
established
by
top
federal
officials
in
December,
when
shipments
began.
The
release
of
the
reserve
doses
would
go
to
people
who
needed
their
second
dose,
not
new
pools
of
people
who
were
getting
their
first
shot.

Going
forward,
Mr.
Azar
said,
the
government
would
shift
to
a
new
model:
rather
than
holding
onto
a
reserve
of
booster
shots,
each
weekly
shipment
from
the
manufacturers
would
include
doses
for
new
people
as
well
as
second
doses
for
those
due
for
their
booster
shots.
President
Biden
echoed
that
policy
in
announcing
his
vaccine
plan
last
week.

Covid-19
Vaccines

Answers
to
Your
Vaccine
Questions

While
the
exact
order
of
vaccine
recipients
may
vary
by
state,
most
will
likely
put
medical
workers
and
residents
of
long-term
care
facilities
first.
If
you
want
to
understand
how
this
decision
is
getting
made,

this
article
will
help.

Life
will
return
to
normal
only
when
society
as
a
whole gains
enough
protection
against
the
coronavirus.
Once
countries
authorize
a
vaccine,
they’ll
only
be
able
to
vaccinate
a
few
percent
of
their
citizens
at
most
in
the
first
couple
months.
The
unvaccinated
majority
will
still
remain
vulnerable
to
getting
infected.
A
growing
number
of
coronavirus
vaccines
are
showing
robust
protection
against
becoming
sick.
But
it’s
also
possible
for
people
to
spread
the
virus
without
even
knowing
they’re
infected
because
they
experience
only
mild
symptoms
or
none
at
all.
Scientists
don’t
yet
know
if
the
vaccines
also
block
the
transmission
of
the
coronavirus.
So
for
the
time
being,
even
vaccinated
people
will
need
to
wear
masks,
avoid
indoor
crowds,
and
so
on.
Once
enough
people
get
vaccinated,
it
will
become
very
difficult
for
the
coronavirus
to
find
vulnerable
people
to
infect.
Depending
on
how
quickly
we
as
a
society
achieve
that
goal,
life
might
start
approaching
something
like
normal
by
the
fall
2021.

Yes,
but
not
forever.
The
two
vaccines
that
will
potentially
get
authorized
this
month
clearly
protect
people
from
getting
sick
with
Covid-19.
But
the
clinical
trials
that
delivered
these
results
were
not
designed
to
determine
whether
vaccinated
people
could
still
spread
the
coronavirus
without
developing
symptoms.
That
remains
a
possibility.
We
know
that
people
who
are
naturally
infected
by
the
coronavirus
can
spread
it
while
they’re
not
experiencing
any
cough
or
other
symptoms.
Researchers will
be
intensely
studying
this
question
as
the
vaccines
roll
out.
In
the
meantime,
even
vaccinated
people
will
need
to
think
of
themselves
as
possible
spreaders.

The
Pfizer
and
BioNTech
vaccine
is
delivered
as
a
shot
in
the
arm,
like
other
typical
vaccines.
The
injection
won’t
be
any
different
from
ones
you’ve
gotten
before.
Tens
of
thousands
of
people
have
already
received
the
vaccines,
and
none
of
them
have
reported
any
serious
health
problems.
But
some
of
them
have
felt
short-lived
discomfort,
including
aches
and
flu-like
symptoms
that
typically
last
a
day.
It’s
possible
that
people
may
need
to
plan
to
take
a
day
off
work
or
school
after
the
second
shot.
While
these
experiences
aren’t
pleasant,
they
are
a
good
sign:
they
are
the
result
of
your
own
immune
system
encountering
the
vaccine
and
mounting
a
potent
response
that
will
provide
long-lasting
immunity.

No.
The
vaccines
from
Moderna
and
Pfizer
use
a
genetic
molecule
to
prime
the
immune
system.
That
molecule,
known
as
mRNA,
is
eventually
destroyed
by
the
body.
The
mRNA
is
packaged
in
an
oily
bubble
that
can
fuse
to
a
cell,
allowing
the
molecule
to
slip
in.
The
cell
uses
the
mRNA
to
make
proteins
from
the
coronavirus,
which
can
stimulate
the
immune
system.
At
any
moment,
each
of
our
cells
may
contain
hundreds
of
thousands
of
mRNA
molecules,
which
they
produce
in
order
to
make
proteins
of
their
own.
Once
those
proteins
are
made,
our
cells
then
shred
the
mRNA
with
special
enzymes.
The
mRNA
molecules
our
cells
make
can
only
survive
a
matter
of
minutes.
The
mRNA
in
vaccines
is
engineered
to
withstand
the
cell’s
enzymes
a
bit
longer,
so
that
the
cells
can
make
extra
virus
proteins
and
prompt
a
stronger
immune
response.
But
the
mRNA
can
only
last
for
a
few
days
at
most
before
they
are
destroyed.

Federal
officials
have
previously
said
they
were
working
with
states
to
track
who
has
gotten
a
vaccine,
and
when
they
are
due
for
their
booster
shots,
which
is
three
weeks
later
for
the
Pfizer
vaccine
and
four
weeks
later
for
the
Moderna
one.

They
have
said
that
each
weekly
shipment
will
give
priority
to
people
who
need
their
second
dose
that
week,
and
whatever
is
left
will
go
to
vaccinating
new
people.

But
the
plan
relies
on
state
and
federal
governments
working
together
and
accurately
reporting
who
has
received
a
vaccine,
and
what
is
needed
from
week
to
week.
Many
state
governments
have
complained
they
do
not
have
the
resources
to
carry
out
the
vaccine
distribution
plan,
and
the
next
few
weeks
will
demonstrate
how
well
the
system
works.

The
incoming
Biden
administration
has
vowed
to
overhaul
distribution
to
the
states,
providing
more
transparency
to
local
officials
about
how
much
vaccine
they
can
expect,
in
the
hopes
of
allowing
states
to
better
plan.

No,
it’s
not
likely
to
happen.

Last
week,
Gov.
Gretchen
Whitmer
of
Michigan

asked
the
federal
government
for
permission
to
buy
100,000
doses
of
vaccine
directly
from
Pfizer.
And
on
Monday,
Gov.
Cuomo

wrote
a
letter
to
Pfizer
asking
for
the
state
to
buy
vaccines
directly.

Pfizer
and
Moderna’s
supply
has
been
fully
claimed
for
at
least
the
first
quarter
of
this
year,
meaning
it’s
unlikely
there
will
be
any
spare
vaccine
to
sell
to
individual
states.

In
addition,
the
emergency
use
authorizations
for
the
Pfizer
and
Moderna
vaccines
stipulate
that
the
federal
government
oversees
distribution.

In
a
statement,
a
Pfizer
spokeswoman
said
the
company
“is
open
to
collaborating
with
the
U.S.
Department
of
Health
and
Human
Services
on
a
distribution
model
that
gives
as
many
Americans
as
possible
access
to
our
vaccine
as
quickly
as
possible.”
But
she
noted
that
“before
we
can
even
consider
direct
sales
to
state
governments,
H.H.S.
would
need
to
approve
that
proposal.”

A
state
official
said
on
Tuesday
that
the
governor
felt
it
was
important
to
exhaust
all
his
options,
no
matter
how
unlikely
they
would
be
succeed,
and
pointed
to
his
efforts
in
March
to
directly
buy
ventilators
from
manufacturers

setting
up
a
bidding
war
among
states
that

he
later
criticized
the
federal
government
for
fueling.

But
advisers
to
the
Biden
administration
have
indicated
that
they
are
not
in
favor
of
such
a
move.
On
Monday,
Dr.
Celine
Gounder,
a
pandemic
adviser
to
Mr.
Biden
during
his
presidential
transition,
said
allowing
states
to
reach
separate
deals
would
cause
more
problems
than
it
would
solve.

In
an
interview
on
CNBC,
Dr.
Gounder
noted
Mr.
Cuomo’s
previous
criticism
of
bidding
over
ventilators.
“I
think
this
kind
of
an
approach
to
vaccine
allocation
is
going
to
result,
frankly,
in
the
same
kind
of
situation
that
he,
himself,
was
criticizing
last
spring,”
she

said.

Yes,
most
likely.

At
least
three
other
vaccines
are
in
late-stage
clinical
trials,
and
the
success
of
any
one
of
them
could
mean
millions
of
more
doses
for
U.S.
residents
by
this
spring.

Johnson
&
Johnson
is
expected
to
announce
the
results
of
its
vaccine
trial
any
day
now,
and
if
it
is
successful,
the
first
doses
could
become
available
in
the
United
States
by
February.
Although
early
production
of
the
vaccine
has
lagged,
the
company
has
signed
a
deal
to
provide
100
million
doses
of
its
one-dose
vaccine
by
the
end
of
June.

By
March
and
April,
results
from
trials
testing
two-dose
vaccines
by
AstraZeneca
and
Novavax
could
also
be
made
public.
AstraZeneca
has
an
arrangement
with
the
U.S.
government
to
provide
300
million
doses,
and
Novavax
to
provide
110
million.

What’s
more,
both
Pfizer
and
Moderna
say
their
factories
are
ramping
up
and
expanding
capacity
each
week.
They
have
signed
deals
to
supply
an
additional
100
million
doses
each
of
their
vaccines
in
the
second
quarter
of
this
year.

It’s
still
not
clear,
although
conservatively,
there
could
be
enough
vaccines
by
the
summer.

If
no
other
vaccines
are
authorized,
the
United
States
has
signed
deals
with
Pfizer
and
Moderna
for
a
total
of
400
million
doses
to
be
delivered
by
summer,
or
enough
for
200
million
people.

That’s
pretty
close
to
the
American
population
of
260
million
adults
(the
vaccines
are
not
approved
yet
for
children
although
studies
are
underway).

But
if
other
vaccines
do
prove
safe
and
effective

which
experts
say
is
likely

millions
more
people
could
be
vaccinated
more
quickly,
possibly
by
late
spring.

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