Biden to release more coronavirus vaccines, rather than keeping 2nd doses

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With the COVID-19 surge and the slow start of vaccinations, President-elect Joe Biden will quickly release most of the vaccine doses available to protect more people, his office said on Friday, a reversal of Trump administration policies.
“The president-elect believes we need to speed up vaccine distribution while continuing to ensure that Americans who need it most get it as quickly as possible,” spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement. Biden “supports the immediate release of available doses and believes the government should stop withholding vaccine supplies so we can get more vaccines in the arms of Americans now.”

Biden’s plan is not to halve vaccines to two doses, a strategy senior government scientists recommend against. Instead, it would expedite the shipment of the first doses and use the levers of government power to deliver the required second doses in a timely manner.

The Trump administration has withheld millions of doses of vaccine to ensure people can get a second vaccine, which provides maximum protection against COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require a second vaccine after the first vaccination. Single injection vaccines are still being tested.

The approach could prevent around a quarter of cases, the analysis estimates

A recent scientific analysis in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine estimated that a ‘flexible’ approach roughly analogous to what Biden is talking about could prevent an additional 23-29% of COVID-19 cases compared to the ‘fixed’ strategy the Trump administration follows. This assumes a regular supply of vaccines.

After a glimmer of hope when the first vaccines were approved last month, the country’s vaccination campaign got off to a slow start. Of the 21.4 million doses distributed, about 5.9 million were administered, or 27%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden has already indicated his displeasure. In a speech last week, before his electoral victory was certified by Congress, the president-elect said he intended to speed up vaccinations by asking the federal government to play a greater role in s ” ensure that vaccines are not only available, but that vaccines are in progress. in the arms of more Americans.

“The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is lagging behind – far behind,” Biden said. “If he continues to move as he is now, it will take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people. ”

Biden seeks 100 million doses in 100 days

The American Hospital Association estimates that the country would need to vaccinate 1.8 million people per day, every day, from Jan. 1 to May 31, to meet the goal of generalized immunity by the summer. This is also called “herd immunity” and would involve vaccinating at least 75% of the population.

Without giving details, Biden said his administration would implement a much more aggressive vaccination campaign, with greater involvement and leadership from the federal government, and the goal of delivering 100 million vaccines in the first 100. days.

Biden attends a coronavirus briefing in Wilmington, Del., In October. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

He said he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had discussed with state and local heads a coordinated approach that dovetails with the efforts of governments at all levels. Among the specificities: the opening of vaccination centers and the sending of mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach communities.

“The main thing is that there is no coordinated national plan,” Biden adviser Dr Rick Bright told The Associated Press. Bright holds a doctorate in immunology.

“Withhold more doses than what we really need”

Biden’s transition office said its experts believe releasing the available vaccine as quickly as possible will not create problems for people needing their second dose. Biden will more widely use a Cold War-era law to compel private industry to provide equipment for vaccine production, should it become necessary, his office said.

Former Food and Drug Administration chief Mark McClellan has said he agrees with Biden’s move, but increased vaccine supply must be coupled with steps for vaccines to be actually administered to people.

“We are withholding more doses than necessary,” he said in an interview. But “it has to be combined with measures to increase vaccine delivery, otherwise it won’t make much of a difference.” McClellan, who served under former Republican President George W. Bush, now heads a center for health policy at Duke University.

Biden announced his plan after eight Democratic governors wrote to the Trump administration on Friday urging him to do the same.

“The federal government currently has more than 50 percent of currently produced vaccines held back,” the governors wrote. “While some of these life-saving vaccines are in Pfizer freezers, our country loses 2,661 Americans every day, according to the latest seven-day average. The failure to distribute these doses to States that request them is unacceptable and unacceptable. We demand that the federal government immediately begin distributing these reserved doses to the states. ”

The letter was signed by the governments. Gretchen Whitmer from Michigan, Gavin Newsom from California, Laura Kelly from Kansas, JB Pritzker from Illinois, Tim Walz from Minnesota, Andrew Cuomo from New York, Jay Inslee from Washington and Tony Evers from Wisconsin.

With the winter wave of the pandemic pushing deaths to record levels and hospitals overwhelmed in cities and towns, some have called on the government to allow single-dose use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This would indeed confer a strengthening of the immunity.

However, government scientists, including Dr Anthony Fauci, have said the vaccines should continue to be used according to the prescriptions of their emergency FDA approval. The two-dose regimen provides approximately 95% protection.

More than 365,000 Americans have died from the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average positivity rate for the country has continued to rise since Christmas and stood at 13.6% on Thursday, according to the COVID Tracking Project. This is well above the 10 percent rate considered a marker of widespread contagion.

Biden spokesman Ducklo said the president-elect will share additional details next week on how his administration will engage with the pandemic when he takes office on January 20.

Biden’s plan to change the vaccine distribution plan was first reported by CNN.

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