The U.S. will miss its target to roll out enough coronavirus vaccine to include 20m people by the end of the year, a senior official in Washington admitted Saturday, after defusing -assess how long it would take to check doses once they have been taken.
Gustave Perna, the army officer in charge of the federal government’s vaccine circulation program, said Saturday that states would not receive 40m doses of the vaccine until the first week of January, a week later than expected.
He said he had not realized how long it would take for the Food and Drug Administration to carry out a quality control inspection of the Pfizer vaccine once it was done, leading to over-optimism in the pre- his assessments.
Gen Perna told reporters on Saturday: “I did not fully understand the steps that need to be taken to ensure the availability of the vaccine. I failed, I am changing, and we will move on from there. “
Gen Perna apologized to state regulators, several of whom complained this week that their vaccine quotas had been lost by as much as 40 percent. The head of vaccine distribution explained that he provided early estimates that did not account for the quality control process and therefore overestimated how quickly state doses could be reached.
Under FDA regulations, Pfizer is required to test all batches of vaccines once they are made to ensure they are safe, pure and strong. It must then send the results of these tests to the regulator 48 hours before they are released for release. Gen Perna did not say which part of that process he had misunderstood.
The admission threatened to adversely affect some of the hopes created by the FDA’s approval Friday night of the Moderna vaccine, making the U.S. the first country in the world for two vaccines Covid-19 different agreed.
Gen Perna said doses of the Moderna vaccine were sent to McKesson, the medical logistics company that oversees the distribution. UPS and FedEx, the delivery companies, will begin delivery on Sunday, while states will begin delivery on Monday.
Moderna vaccine can be stored at normal freezer temperatures rather than the ultra-cold conditions required for Pfizer production, so it is a vital part of government plans to get doses to remote communities.
Gen Perna said this would allow officers to vaccinate people in “hard to reach, small and more rural areas”. He said: “This is another special day for our country.”