Biden warns US ‘falling far behind’ on vaccine goal with just 10% of promised 20million Covid jabs given out

AMERICA is expected to fall "far behind" its Covid-19 vaccine goal with just 10 percent of projected jabs administered, according to President-elect Joe Biden.

Two Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have now been given emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, paving the way for the first handful of frontline health-care workers and vulnerable long-term care residents to be inoculated against the virus.

The Trump administration’s vaccine program, Operation Warp Speed, planned to provide 40 million doses of vaccines between the two companies by the end of the year, which would’ve been enough for roughly 20 million people since each drug requires two shots at differing intervals.

As of Tuesday, however, it seemed far short of that goal: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said just over 11.4 million doses had been distributed since December 13 but only about 2.1 million had been administered, CNBC reports.

"The Trump administration's plans to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind," President-elect Biden said of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

"As I long-feared, and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should."

Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told Good Morning America the world was "a couple of days away from that end of the year (so) we're obviously not going to hit our goal of 20 million".

'There's a lot of steps and there just hasn't been very much planning, there hasn't been very much investment," Dr Jha said.

"We're starting to see departments of health that are really stretched having to try to figure out how to get these vaccines into people and it's going much more slowly than I think the federal authorities thought it would.

"Departments of health are incredibly stretched right now with all the testing and everything else they're doing – they really need a lot more planning help right now…of how do you get this [vaccine] out there, and it isn't happening. 

"So we have two choices: all of our 50 states are failing us – I don't think that's the right way to look at this – or we need to our federal government to be helping states and not just saying to every state, you're on your own."

Dr Jha said he's hopeful that the $900 billion relief bill just passed by Congress will mean that some of that money is funneled to states to fund vaccination efforts.

Dr Anthony Fauci echoed Dr Jha's sentiments in an interview with CNN. 

"We certainly are not at the numbers we wanted to be at the end of December," he said.

The CDC noted a number of reasons for the considerable difference between the number of distributed doses that have yet to be administered.

The CDC cited data reporting lags and the pending launch of the federal government’s partnership with pharmacy chains as reasons for the gap between delivered and administered doses.

Nonetheless, only a few months ago the federal government’s prediction for how many doses would be available was much higher than its eventual 40 million threshold.

In October, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a keynote speech at a virtual event hosted by Goldman Sachs that there could be as many as 100 million doses available.

There are about 18 million health care workers and 1.4 million nursing home residents in the US, hence the goal of protecting the first 20 million, highest risk Americans by the end of the year.   

CDC has recommended that these groups be vaccinated first, but like so many other elements of the vaccination process, the final decision is left up to states. 

Some, like Texas, have decided to vaccinate all elderly people – within and outside of nursing homes – ahead of other essential workers, in an effort to lighten the load on hospitals and to hopefully reduce fatalities directly, The Daily Mail reports. 

Other states included vulnerable people in prisons in their first wave of vaccines after massive outbreaks spread like wildfire among inmates and from workers at large corrections facilities to the larger communities. 

President Donald Trump’s Covid-19 vaccine czar, Moncef Slaoui, acknowledged to reporters last week that the 20 million goal was “unlikely to be met” and that the ramp-up of immunizations was "slower than we thought it would be".

A small subset of vaccines was allocated directly to the federal government to vaccinate some service men and women and officials. 

The US has started vaccinating its troops based in South Korea, as its Asian ally reported its highest daily Covid-19 fatalities amid surging cases in the country.

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