Delays in Covid Vaccine Roll Out

By: Tanvi Mittal — Editor-in-Chief

Vaccine roll out across the country has been delayed because of several supply and distribution obstacles.

Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have been approved for use in the United States and distribution has started. A promise of 20 million doses administered by the end of 2020 was made, but the estimate has fallen way short of the promised goals. It is now up to President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 team to create a new plan to successfully administer millions of vaccine doses across the country.

While Biden’s team hoped to rework the current plan, one source told CNN that “there is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch.” Another source agreed saying that they would have to start from “square one”. 

This recent development calls to question whether President Biden will be able to fulfill his promises regarding coronavirus vaccinations. He had promised that a hundred million shots will be administered by the end of March. He just recently upped that number to 150,000.

The country is facing several logistical challenges to meeting this goal. One of which being vaccine production and supply.

In an interview with NPR, Sydney Lupkin, a pharmaceuticals correspondent says “Pfizer and Moderna have agreed to deliver 100 million doses to the federal government in the first quarter of the year.” She says that this was a lofty goal because “both companies are currently delivering about 4.3 million doses a week… but these companies need to start delivering about 7.5 million doses a week if they are going to reach that 100 million dose mark by the end of March.”

In the same interview, John Avellanet, an FDA compliance expert, agrees with Lupkin saying that it would be a real challenge for them to hit that contracted target. Lupkin says that to meet this goal everything has to go right but a lot can go wrong. 

“Equipment is expected to break and need repairs. The vaccines have to pass inspections before they can be shipped. And, of course, vaccine production also depends on an ample supply of chemical ingredients, vials, and skilled workers,” Lupkin said.

Another major reason that vaccine roll out has been slow is distribution. Previously, states were holding back doses to be given to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. According to the New York Times, “only 8% of the doses distributed for use in the facilities have been administered, with 2 million yet to be given.” 

Additionally, Federal officials have left the smaller details of the distribution process to local Health officials and hospitals. These institutions are already overstretched and do not have the time to devote personnel to scheduling and staffing. This has caused many mix-ups including one in West Virginia where 42 people who were supposed to receive the coronavirus vaccine were mistakenly injected with an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment. While the recipients have not developed any adverse effects so far, this is a major error due to a lack of resources available to hospitals.

While many are placing the blame on Federal officials for the delayed vaccine distribution, Federal and State officials are saying that they have done their job which was only to ensure that vaccines were available. They believe that it is up to states to distribute vaccines and that states need to come up with better plans to do so. 

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