President elect Joe Biden’s plan to speed up coronavirus vaccinations nationwide is unlikely to cause a shortage of second doses in Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose regimen, his advisers claim.
Biden on Thursday announced a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan, including a goal of 100 million doses delivered in his first 100 days, and outreach to possible recipients. On Tuesday, Trump administration officials shifted to Biden’s plan to release a federal store of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines originally reserved to ensure that Phase 1a recipients would not miss their second dose if supply issues arose.
The incoming president’s advisory board has met with the manufacturers and are confident that second shots will be available on time, said team member Celine Gounder, M.D., of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, according to CNBC.
“If you look at the timeline for production, they are actually going to be releasing more and more doses over time, so that really does open things up significantly,” added Grounder, an infectious disease specialist.
Each state, meanwhile, has handled the vaccine rollout in its own way. On Tuesday, for example, Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan said his state has no plans to include all seniors in the vaccination program until all Phase 1a recipients are completely inoculated, despite new recommendations from federal officials.
Hogan’s administration fears that expanding vaccinations to more recipients could leave the state without second doses for nursing home residents and front-line health workers, according to the Baltimore Sun. The governor said he would require assurances from manufacturers and the federal government that vaccine production will increase before moving to the next phase, the news outlet reported.
In sharp contrast, California has opted to open up vaccinations to all seniors as its hospitals overflow with coronavirus patients. That adds another 4 million people to the state’s vaccination roster, according to the Associated Press.
Outgoing Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday argued that there are now enough vaccines held back by the federal government to deliver to the states when the second round of doses is needed. Rather than leaving vaccines “sitting on the shelf,” states should begin to overlap the vaccinations of Phase 1b recipients, including adults aged 65 and older, he said.
Whether the Biden team’s additional assurances will reassure states like Maryland remains to be seen. The administration said it plans to work more closely with state and local officials to help smooth the push to speed things up.