US officials express concern over possible shortage of COVID-19 vaccine
More more than than 3000 3000 people people dying dying from from Corona Corona virus virus every every day day here here in in this this country. country. There There is is a a sign sign of progress. Though the number of new cases is declining significantly, vaccines are the key to making sure that trend continues. But getting the vaccines where they need to go has been problematic. NPR's Allison Aubrey joins us now. Hi, Allison. Good morning, Rachel. All right. We're gonna start with some numbers about 22 million shots have been given which is good. That's about half of the total doses that have been distributed across the country, though. So you've got 20 million other doses available. And yet some cities in hospitals say they're running out of the vaccine. How is this disconnect? Explain this, right? Okay, so I know it sounds counterintuitive, but they're actually two things happening at once. Right? Okay. So manufacturing is accelerating. Visor and Madonna have distributed more than 40 million doses around the country to every county, every state. But many more people are now eligible to get the shot at a time when states are just figuring out logistically Rachel how to scale this up, and that's creating a bottleneck. I mean, some places they're doing better than others. I spoke to Dr Mark Boom, he's CEO of Houston Methodist, part of the colossal Texas Medical Center system. Now they're using doses as fast as they can receive them. But it's not enough. Each week. We run out waiting for our next shipment. It's really a supply constraints issue. We coordinate across our city's about doing this as quickly as possible. So we're confident we can do this. As a community. It's just a matter of getting more supplied more quickly. Yeah. So at this moment, the vaccines are still think of them as a scarce resource, and that creates anxiety. It creates confusion right and this helps account for all these stories. We're hearing about people who get an appointment to get the vaccine, and then they get a phone call or an email saying your appointment's been canceled or postponed. So, I mean, can the vaccine makers just produce market they produce enough to help meet the demand and the Biden administration's goal of 100 million doses in 100 days? Well, you know, administration officials think so and look to be fair, even as the new administration came in last week about a million doses a day were already being administered, which is what's needed to meet that goal if we stay on track, but there are now lots of head winds to keep this going, White House Chief Chief of Staff Ron Clean said on NBC yesterday. There are multiple challenges. It's a very complex process that needs help on all fronts. We need more vaccine. We need more vaccinate whores. We need more vaccination sites. So he's saying there's a lot of challenges there, including the need to produce more vaccines, huh? That's right. We got to go back to that. I mean Fizer of modern it need to deliver millions of more doses per week. Rachel to stay on track, and this is tricky. These companies have to scale up factory capacity deal with supply chain issues. And remember this is brand new. It's the first time I am already technology has been used at this massive scale. I spoke to Dr Josh Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins University. He's been being considered for the top posted the FDA, he says. Given how complicated this is the urgency, Majorino, Fizer and other companies may need help, including maybe the use of the Defense production act to boost shortfalls. Just hoping that the company's alone will come through may not be enough. And so one of the key aspects of the Biden plan is to roll up the government sleeves and say, How can we make sure you have the supplies? You need the machines you need and potentially even expand your production capacity. So big picture here, Rachel, this is going to take some time. Many months. I mean, another potential challenge occurs to me. What about folks who've gotten their first dose? Right? This is a two does vaccine So they've gotten the first shot. But what if they can't get the second shot on time? Is that okay? What? Mm. The CDC says the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended intervals possible, which is three weeks for the fire, Sir vaccine four weeks for the Madonna vaccine. However, if this isn't feasible, that agency says the second dose can be delayed administered up to 42 days after the first toast. I spoke to physician Gabe Kelen at Johns Hopkins University about this. He's overseeing the vaccine distribution there at the university. So in their preliminary studies, you know when they looked at what is the shortest reasonable time to give a booster turned out to be three weeks and four weeks? That doesn't mean giving the booster at six weeks isn't justice affected for longer term? Community. You know, he says there is limited data here, so no one knows exactly how long this gonna extend out. But it makes good sense that there's legal room here.