Rochelle Walensky, who was nominated as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden started his team dealing with the Covid-19 on December 8 at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware. Pandemic commissioned, 2020.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
President-elect Joe Biden’s senior health officials are confident the U.S. will have enough coronavirus vaccine doses to meet the new administration’s goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days, despite the slower than expected introduction of life-saving drugs.
“That is what the president-elect promised. It will be a huge boost, but we have enough to do that,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Biden’s choice to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CBS “Face the Nation” “on Sunday.
The president-elect has vowed to keep virus suppression a top priority as soon as he takes office in the coming days. On Friday, Biden presented a five-step plan to expand the number of vaccination sites in the United States. He believes this will accelerate the nation’s ability to get more vaccine doses into the arms of Americans.
The US has fallen far short of its target of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of last year. While the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed has dispensed over 31.1 million doses nationwide to date, only 12.3 million people have been vaccinated, according to the latest CDC data.
To accelerate the pace, the CDC on Tuesday issued new guidelines for heads of state that extend vaccination eligibility to anyone aged 65 and over, as well as those with comorbid conditions such as diabetes. The federal government announced that it would also release doses that would be kept in a “physical reserve” to ensure adequate supply.
A senior citizen will receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, January 15, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona.
Cheney Orr | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines, so far the only two to have been granted an emergency permit in the United States, require two vaccinations several weeks apart. The reserve was supposed to ensure that people who had their first shots received a second dose later.
However, several Democratic leaders accused the Trump administration of misleading them about adding doses after the Washington Post reported Friday that there were no such vaccine reserves. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar replied on Twitter Saturday, saying they had a stash of second doses that were released towards the end of December.
The HHS chief said the announcement this week was “that we are releasing the remaining reserved second doses according to the cadence set – to make sure the second doses are available at the correct interval – and that we have no reserves in the future would. ” second cans. “
Biden’s new Chief of Staff of the White House, Ron Klain, The former Ebola tsar under President Barack Obama told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that the new administration is “inheriting a big mess”. However, Klain said he was confident that “the continued supply and distribution of this offering will take place to meet the goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.”
Part of Biden’s five-step plan to increase vaccine distribution is to increase the application of the Defense Production Act, a law of war that allows the President to force companies to prioritize production for reasons of national security.
This allows Biden to increase the number of key resources that bolster dose delivery, Klain said. For example, some of Pfizer’s vaccine bottles have been found to contain an additional sixth shot that could increase dose delivery by 20%, Klain said.
The federal government, which is sending supply kits to states with items like needles and syringes to administer the medication, did not include the additional doses in its original planning, said Jessica Daley, pharmacist and vice president at Premier, which buys medical supplies for thousands of hospitals .
Some health care providers have since had to dip into their own reserves or have tried to secure additional supplies themselves, Daley told CNBC on Wednesday. The Biden administration will ramp up production of the necessary syringes to gain access to the additional doses, Klain said on Sunday.
“One thing that is clear is that the problem of getting 100 million doses in the first 100 days is perfectly feasible,” said White House Health Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who will become a medical advisor to Biden’s office after the president-elect takes office, told NBC Meet the Press on Sunday.
Fauci added that by applying the Defense Production Act, the US will “not hesitate to use all the mechanisms we can to get everything on the right track,” such as vaccine supplies and Covid-19 testing.
“The feasibility of its goal is absolutely clear,” said Fauci over 100 million doses in 100 days. “There’s no doubt about it … it can be done.”
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration in the Trump administration who sits on Pfizer’s board of directors, said Sunday that the Biden administration is likely to meet its goal of 100 million doses and Biden’s five-step plan “makes a lot of sense.”
“I think the topics are in demand,” said Gottlieb to “Face the Nation”. “I think they’ll have the supplies and the distribution to do that.”
– CNBC’s Tucker Higgins and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus, and the biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has signed a manufacturing agreement with Gilead to manufacture Remdesivir. Gottlieb is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Panel.