Federal Stockpile of Vaccines Empty

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Source: Time Magazine

By Grace Hwang

Not too long ago, states had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of new shipments of the coronavirus vaccine after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced on January 12 that the federal government would be releasing many more doses from their vaccine inventory instead of stockpiling them up for second doses in an effort to get more Americans vaccinated with their first dose. However, it has just been recently revealed that there are no vaccines left in the inventory to ship, a major disappointment and concern for the country, as the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to climb dramatically.

After President-elect Joe Biden announced that he would be releasing all available doses of the vaccine once he took office, the Trump administration decided a few days later that they would be doing the same. Although slightly controversial as to whether it would be the best idea to use up the booster shots, most were hopeful with this new plan. However, Operation Warp Speed, who is currently overseeing U.S. vaccine distribution, had apparently already been shipping out all available doses of the Pfizer vaccine starting in December of last year and was doing the same with Moderna since last weekend, meaning that all vaccines have already been distributed. With no stockpiles of the vaccine, state and local leaders have become especially frustrated, as their plans to broaden eligibility for those who could receive their shots can no longer take place right now.

When the vaccines were first approved in December, it was once predicted that 50 million people would have been expected to be vaccinated by the end of January. However, only just over 11 million doses have actually been administered so far, and 30 million doses distributed in total. The U.S. still has a long way to go until vaccine distribution and administration is completely sorted out and becomes efficient, and according to Dr. Peter Hoyez, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, “we need to vaccinate the American people at the rate of 1 million to 2 million per day for every day from now until the end of August, and we’re not even close to that”, suggesting that it’s going to take longer than expected for our lives to return to normal.

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