The vaccine rollout has been plagued by bottlenecks and avoidable confusion. The Biden team says it wants to fix that.
In retrospect, probably the last thing the United States’ bungled Covid-19 vaccine rollout needed was for the Trump administration to spend its final week in power promising the states extra vaccines that didn’t exist. Last Tuesday, departing secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced that the federal government would release its stockpile of Covid-19 doses instead of holding the vaccines in reserve for the second round of shots. Some states, accordingly, started widening their first-tier vaccine eligibility plans to include all individuals above the age of 65, for example. Then The Washington Post reported on Friday that the U.S. had actually started shipping doses directly from the manufacturing line in late December, without holding any back. There is no vaccine stockpile.
All of this confusion took place during a time of increasing urgency, as hospitals struggle to accommodate post-holiday travel surges and more transmissible Covid-19 variants like B-117 have begun circulating in the United States. Nearly every day, the U.S. is breaking previous records on new Covid-19 cases and deaths. “It feels like a race against time to be able to get to as many people as possible, as quickly as we can,” Dr. Grace Lee, chief medical officer for practice innovation and infectious diseases physician at Stanford Children’s Health, told me. “We’re at a critical point in the pandemic… We just need to get doses into arms as quickly as possible, with mindfulness about making sure it is as equitable as possible.” And so far, that isn’t happening. The two biggest questions in U.S. pandemic response right now are simple: Why, exactly, are the bottlenecks happening, and what’s the best way for the Biden administration to fix them? Read more at The New Republic.
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