Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
China Daily Global / 2021-01 / 14 / Page006

US changes tack to hasten vaccine rollout

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-01-14 00:00

Facing a slower-than-hoped coronavirus vaccine rollout, the administration of US President Donald Trump abruptly shifted gears on Tuesday to speed the delivery of shots to more people. The move came as cases and deaths surged to alarming new highs.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a series of major changes to increase supply of vaccines, extend eligibility to more seniors and provide more locations for people to get shots. Administration officials describing the new policies conveyed a notable sense of urgency.

Late last week, President-elect Joe Biden had said that he would release nearly every available dose of the two vaccines being used after taking office.

With Tuesday's decision, the two camps now appear to be in sync on the issue. The Trump administration has been holding back half of US vaccine production to ensure second doses are available. The current vaccines-one from Pfizer and BioNTech and the other from Moderna-require two doses, administered at specific intervals. Vaccine manufacturing hasn't ramped up as rapidly as many experts had hoped.

Azar said going forward the federal government will base each state's allocation of vaccines partly on how successful states have been in administering those already provided.

"If you are not using vaccines that you have the right to, then we should be rebalancing to states that are using that vaccine," Azar said at a news conference.

Concerns voiced

In recent days, some health experts had voiced concerns over a hastened rollout, including Anthony Fauci, who advises both the Trump administration and the incoming Biden administration on the federal COVID-19 response.

"I would not be in favor of that," Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN on Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration-whose advice Biden has pledged to follow-has also spoken out against changing the dosing schedule. It calls such a move "premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence".

But other health experts said it's the right thing to do because it is imperative to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible as long as the second doses aren't delayed.

"There is no reason that states need to complete, say, vaccinating all healthcare providers before opening up vaccinations to older Americans or other especially vulnerable populations," Azar said on Jan 6.

"It would be much better to move quickly and end up vaccinating some lower-priority people than to let vaccines sit around while states try to micromanage this process. Faster administration would save lives right now, which means we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good," he said.

Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said the current vaccination plan isn't working. "We need to hit the reset and adopt a new strategy in trying to get that out to patients," he told CBS News on Sunday.

Nationwide, the US death toll from COVID-19 hit a new daily record of nearly 4,500, Johns Hopkins University said on Tuesday.

As the health crisis rages out of control, this was the first time the death toll in the country hardest hit by the pandemic surpassed 4,000 in 24 hours.

The US had recorded more than 22.77 million cases and over 379,000 deaths as of Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins tally.

Arizona has become the country's newest hot spot for weekly coronavirus cases with nearly 335 deaths and 9,000 new infections on Tuesday alone.

Joe Gerald, a researcher at the University of Arizona, warned in a modeling report released on Friday that things could soon get worse.

Agencies, Minlu Zhang and Belinda Robinson in New York contributed to this story.


A nurse tends to a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Apple Valley, California, on Monday. ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP



Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349