There is an increase in branch identification as states receive fewer vaccines than expected

Fake Highway Sign showing USS Campaign hitting a speed bump
Enlargement / Operation Warp Speed ​​hits speed.

Photos by Aurich Lawson / Getty

As we await the announcement of a second vaccine approval for use in the U.S., glitches have been hitting the release of the first one through the federal government’s “Operation Warp Speed”. This week, the US saw the first use of the vaccine developed in collaboration with Pfizer / BioNTech. But immediately after that, many states began to say that orders for shipments were being cut in the weeks that followed. After some in the federal government said the problem could be in production, Pfizer issued a statement showing that doses in their warehouse were ready for delivery but no indication of where they would be sent. them them.

All in all, it’s about what you’d expect in the first few weeks of such great promise.

State of rejection

Illinois was one of the first states to report problems, where its governor, JB Pritzker, said he had symptoms that he would only receive half the expected doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. next week. Since then, more than a dozen states have reported that they will receive fewer doses than expected in the second week (this article seems to have a fairly extensive list).

In addition to the obvious problem with fewer vaccinated people, this creates issues for working states through vaccinating a set of numbers using risk-based priorities. For example, available doses for health care workers will determine when vaccines can be transferred to nursing home numbers; planning when to change the target population will be critical for fast and efficient movement. Without knowing when enough vaccines will be available, it is much more difficult to manage these transitions.

When it comes to why the orders are being cut, we hear a number of apologies. At a press conference about the rollout effort, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar identified the branch of Pfizer, which manufactures the vaccine in the US. “We have recently been made aware of the challenges they may face in their work, and we will ensure that, whichever way, we fully support them to ensure that they can deliver results. to the American people, ”Azar said.

But Azar is not the only story the government is giving. The Washington Post was told that the case was the case when the weekly doses were confirmed. Initially, that was planned for Friday, when the week – long manufacturing run would be completed; it has since been moved to Tuesday when fewer doses were completed. That would definitely cut down on the numbers available by states.

Unfortunately, none of this seems to be entirely true. In response to this news, Pfizer has released a statement in which it states that it has no production issues. “This week, we forwarded all 2.9 million doses requested by the U.S. Government to be sent to the designated locations,” the statement reads. “We have millions of extra doses sitting in our warehouse but, so far, we have not received a load instruction for additional doses.”

Given that BioNTech linked to Pfizer partly because of the latter’s manufacturing capabilities and because of clear credibility issues with the Trump administration on the COVID-19 issue, Pfizer’s statement seems to be closer to the truth.

This is not bad news

Warp Speed ​​is a large and complex project in which several vaccine manufacturers deliver doses to the federal government, which they then deliver to states, each of which must plan to get to numbers according to different priorities. It is not surprising that pain would grow. Hopefully they will take off as long as there is one vaccine provider, which limits the complexity a bit.

But the single provider status could change as early as today, based on the FDA advisory board’s decision that a vaccine from Moderna is effective. Based on preliminary figures, Moderna expects to deliver many more vaccines as soon as it receives a formal Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, which increases circulation but relieves supply bottles.

In the longer term, there are signs that there are other opportunities to increase vaccine supply. After rejecting an offer from Pfizer to purchase additional doses of the vaccine earlier this year, the federal government may be close to a deal to buy more. Pfizer had worked with suppliers of its raw materials to find out what vaccine it could produce; when the US turned it on, the company just found other countries to sell them doses to. Now, it appears that if the U.S. government can ensure a better supply of their vaccine products, they will sell the extra doses to the country.

As of now, the U.S. only promises to buy enough vaccines to cover half of their population by mid-2021, making additional doses necessary. Last week, the government received a pledge from Moderna for another 100 million doses of its vaccine. Major pharmaceutical companies are expecting a spring deal, expressing confidence that additional supply will be resolved.

One small help for the current supply constraints that have emerged this week is that the usual “overfilling” found in vaccine bottles is sometimes enough to allow an extra dose to be taken. out of a five-dose bottle of Pfizer vaccine. While it will not address the procurement issues with a big picture, it will undoubtedly help individual facilities to protect more of their staff in the early days of the vaccination program.