News

Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments


Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments
In this Dec. 15, 2020, file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I. Uncertainty over the pace of federal COVID-19 vaccine allotments triggered anger and confusion Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in some states where officials worried that expected shipments would not be forthcoming. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Governors bitterly accused the Trump administration Friday of deceiving the states about the amount of COVID-19 vaccine they can expect to receive as they ramp up vaccinations for senior citizens and others. But the government attributed the anger to confusion and misguided expectations on the part of the states.

Read:Slovakia begins new mass virus testing

Meanwhile, the race between the vaccine and the virus may be about to heat up: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the new, more infectious variant first seen in Britain will probably become the dominant version in the U.S. by March.

The CDC said the variant is about 50% more contagious than the virus that is causing the bulk of cases in this country.

“We want to sound the alarm,” said Dr. Jay Butler, CDC deputy director for infectious diseases.

The clash over the pace of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine allotments threatens to escalate tensions between the Trump administration and some states over who is responsible for the relatively slow start to the vaccination drive against the scourge that has killed over 390,000 Americans.

Oregon had announced earlier this week that it would expand vaccine eligibility to roughly 760,000 residents 65 and older, as well as teachers and child care providers, because of what it said were promises that the state’s vaccine allotment would be increased.

Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments
In this Jan. 11, 2021, file photo, Florence Mullins, 89, sits in a chair as a family member holds her place in a long line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Fair Park in Dallas. Uncertainty over the pace of federal COVID-19 vaccine allotments triggered anger and confusion Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in some states where officials worried that expected shipments would not be forthcoming. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

But Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said those plans are now in disarray because of “deception on a national scale” by the administration.

Read:As coronavirus death toll surpasses 350,000, Trump calls U.S. count ‘far exaggerated’

Via Twitter, Brown said she was told by Gen. Gustave F. Perna, who leads Operation Warp Speed, that states will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccine from the national stockpile next week “because there is no federal reserve of doses.”

As a result of what she called “a cruel joke,” Brown said the state will now postpone vaccination of senior citizens to Feb. 8, instead of Jan. 23, and initially limit it to people 80 and older.

Late Friday, Oregon health officials said a case of the variant had been diagnose in the Portland area in a patient who had no travel history.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, said he was among several governors deceived by federal officials about availability of a strategic supply of doses.

Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar listens to a reporter’s question during a news conference on Operation Warp Speed and COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

“This one is so far beyond the pale to be almost unimaginable,” he said. “Who’s going to be prosecuted for this? What are the states to do when they’ve been lied to and made all their plans around this?”

Read:Patient-reported outcomes from the randomized phase III CROWN study of first-line Lorlatinib versus in ALK+ NSCLC

Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, said governors were “told explicitly” on Tuesday that they would be provided additional doses. Northam, a Democrat and a doctor, had moved quickly as a result to announce that the state would expand vaccine eligibility.

Now, Northam’s administration is trying to determine whether those additional supplies don’t exist, Yarmosky said.

“What we’re seeing is fully in line with the dysfunction that has characterized the Trump administration’s entire response to COVID-19. President-elect (Joe) Biden cannot be sworn in fast enough,” she said.

Michael Pratt, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that states may have been confused in their expectations but that there has been no reduction in doses shipped to them.

Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments
In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo, Ken Towns receives a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from UC Davis Health in Sacramento, Calif. Uncertainty over the pace of federal COVID-19 vaccine allotments triggered anger and confusion Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in some states where officials worried that expected shipments would not be forthcoming. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool, File)

Biden alluded to the tensions Friday and pledged to communicate better with states so they know how much vaccine will arrive and when.

“Right now we’re hearing that they can’t plan because they don’t know,” he said. “That stops when we’re in office.”

As of Friday, the government had distributed over 31 million doses to states, U.S. territories and major cities. About 12.3 million doses had been administered, according to online tracking by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is no evidence that the new variant causes more severe illness or is transmitted differently, and mask wearing and other precautions still work, the CDC said. Scientists have also expressed confidence that the vaccines are still effective against it.

According to CDC, the variant has been detected in 12 states and diagnosed in only 76 reported cases. But it is probably more widespread in the U.S. than the numbers suggest, CDC scientists said.

Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments
In this Jan. 11, 2021, file photo, Century Village residents wait before appointments are handed out for the COVID-19 vaccine in West Palm Beach, Fla. Uncertainty over the pace of federal COVID-19 vaccine allotments triggered anger and confusion Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in some states where officials worried that expected shipments would not be forthcoming. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post via AP, File)

The two COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S.—made by Pfizer and Moderna—are designed to be given in two doses, three or four weeks apart.

For weeks, Operation Warp Speed had been holding large amounts of vaccine in reserve to ensure that those who got their first dose received their second one on time. The practice was a hedge against possible manufacturing delays. When HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced on Tuesday that he was ending the practice, it was interpreted as essentially doubling the expected supply.

But there was another huge change: He also urged states to open vaccinations to everyone over 65 and younger people with certain health problems, even though most hadn’t yet finished dispensing shots to all the health workers first in line.

The result was a scramble by state and local health authorities to figure out exactly how much vaccine they would receive in the coming weeks and how to ramp up shots for a public with higher expectations.

Pratt said doses that were being held in reserve to provide second shots were released last week. It’s unclear, however, if they all shipped prior to the Trump administration’s announcement early this week that states should open up vaccination to more people. He said states are getting the required second doses they need and the number of first doses is stable.

Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments
In this Jan. 11, 2021, file photo, Naomi Adams checks on residents after they received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Monarch Villa memory care facility in Stockbridge, Ga. Uncertainty over the pace of federal COVID-19 vaccine allotments triggered anger and confusion Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in some states where officials worried that expected shipments would not be forthcoming. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Pfizer said it is working around the clock to produce millions of doses a day, adding, “We foresee no issues in delivering on the commitments we have made” to supply Operation Warp Speed. Moderna didn’t immediately respond to questions about its supplies.

At Mary’s Woods, a retirement community in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, residents expressed fear they will have to wait longer for their vaccinations. Several have COVID-19, and others are terrified it could spread to them soon.

“I’m pretty disappointed,” said 75-year-old Joan Burns. “We’re sequestered and it’s difficult to talk to anybody. I am as anxious as I’ve ever been, and I know it’s escalating. We’re just playing the odds right now, really.”

Elsewhere around the country, in hard-hit California, where 3,675 people have died from COVID-19 in the past week, officials are rushing to help overwhelmed county coroners. The Office of Emergency Services said it has secured 98 refrigerated trailers to serve as makeshift morgues.


Follow the latest news on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak


© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
Governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments (2021, January 16)
retrieved 16 January 2021
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-governors-pace-covid-vaccine-shipments.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.





Source link

Previous post
Italy surpasses 1 million coronavirus vaccinations: PM
Next post
Mexico sees record spike in coronavirus cases