Updates on Covid-19 Vaccination

By: Tanvi Mittal — Editor-in-Chief

With three approved Covid-19 vaccines, the United States is gearing up to vaccinate the entire population as soon as possible.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50.7 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with about 25.5 million people having been fully vaccinated.

President Joe Biden recently announced that the United States would have enough vaccine doses for every adult American by the end of May. This new estimate is a vast change from previous ones and provides hope to many throughout the country. 

“As a consequence of the stepped-up process that I ordered, and just outlined, this country will have enough vaccine supply as a target for every adult in America by the end of May,” said President Biden in a statement. “By the end of May. That’s progress. Important progress.”

Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co, a pharmaceutical giant, have agreed to work together in the Covid-19 vaccine production, greatly increasing available doses. Both companies have been rivals, but put aside their differences to work together in what President Biden called “a type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War II.”

Since Merck & Co were unsuccessful in their endeavors to create a vaccine, the White House stepped in and urged them to help in the production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. By brokering this deal, the United States will be able to have enough doses much earlier than initially expected.

Still, there are many unanswered questions when it comes to how fast Merck will be able to begin production. According to the New York Times, “It will take months for the company to convert its facilities to manufacture and package a vaccine that it did not invent, according to two people familiar with Johnson & Johnson’s operations who were not authorized to speak publicly.”

The New York Times article added that “one federal official with knowledge of the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the administration hopes the deal would eventually double the doses that Johnson & Johnson could have manufactured on its own.” 

This is incredibly important because as of now, Johnson & Johnson has been running behind on its manufacturing targets though company executives have promised that they will meet the goals.

“Under the new agreement, Merck will dedicate two of its facilities to the production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One facility will provide ‘fill-finish,’ the final phase of the manufacturing process during which the vaccine is placed in vials and packaged for shipping. The other will make the ‘drug substance’ — the vaccine itself,” according to the New York Times.

Another development in the vaccine story is that several states have begun to vaccinate teachers. While Massachusetts has not allowed this yet, CVS Pharmacy has taken it upon themselves to open the grounds and allow teachers to be vaccinated through them. On their website, CVS details the eligible people as “people age 65+, teachers K-12, daycare and preschool workers, and staff, people 16+ with 2+ certain medical conditions, qualifying health care workers and first responders, residents and staff of long-term care, congregate care, and low-income and affordable senior housing.” 

With such high demand in the state, all vaccine slots are currently fully booked, but the site urges people to check it constantly as they can open up at any time.

Though CVS has already opened vaccination appointments to teachers, Governor Baker gave a statement on March 3rd allowing teachers to get vaccinated starting next week. According to Baker, teachers can be vaccinated starting March 11. Yet, Baker also spoke to the limited vaccine doses that are available to the state and how Massachusetts will not be receiving additional vaccines until the end of March. With 65+ residents still waiting to get vaccinated, there are very limited appointment openings.

image from cnbc.com

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