Despite challenges with the distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines, the US “can and should” vaccinate 70-85% of US adults by the end of summer, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said Thursday.
If officials do hit that benchmark, it could mean a semblance of normalcy by the fall, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.
“When you put …. the pedal to the floor, you can get it done,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday.
At the current pace of vaccinations, that necessary threshold will not be reached until February 2022, but Fauci said officials must and will ramp up production and distribution by “getting community vaccine centers, getting the pharmacies fully involved, using mobile units to get into inaccessible places.”
Fauci’s assessment offers a glimmer of hope as forecasts predict the death toll from the virus will likely top 500,000 within the next month.
“The only way to solve a problem is to own it,” he said. “Everybody wear a mask, everybody adhere to the public health measures, get the vaccine out as expeditiously as possible, do everything we can to get the doses available and to get them into people’s arms.”
Seniors spend hours waiting in LA
More than one million coronavirus vaccine shots were administered Thursday — the second time as many doses were given in a day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And though that brought the total to more than 17.5 million doses administered, officials say they aren’t getting the vaccines fast enough to meet demand.
In Georgia, officials are seeing high numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and the 120,000 doses allotted per week to the state is not enough to vaccinate seniors and other high-risk residents, Gov. Brian Kemp said.
“We will still have far more demand than we have supply,” Kemp said.
Constraints on supply in New York City means there are not enough doses to vaccinate members of the NYPD and FDNY, the agencies told CNN on Thursday. There are still enough for those who already have appointments made and those who had already received their first dose, the FDNY said.
Lines at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium on Thursday were filled largely with people over 65 years old with some waiting for five hours for the vaccine, Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“There may be a wait… so use the restroom beforehand, bring water and snacks, and make sure your gas tank is filled up or your car is charged,” he said.
President Joe Biden’s pick for Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the US needs to do more to speed up the vaccinations.
“We cannot take a year in order to get to the critical levels of vaccination that we need in this country,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We’ve got to get there sooner.”
Even with reports of many people waiting in line, about six in 10 Americans don’t know when or where to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Most Americans don’t know when or where they can get a vaccine, including older Americans, who are already eligible to get a vaccine in a growing number of states,” KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said in a news release Friday. “Understandably large numbers of people are frustrated, angry and confused.”
New vaccines could be on the way
Officials hope new coronavirus vaccines will be approved and help speed up the administration.
Currently, the US has approved vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna.
However, Johnson & Johnson is running “very large scale” clinical trials and plans to have “enough vaccines for 100 million Americans by spring,” board member Dr. Mark McClellan told CNBC on Thursday.
Dr. Fauci said the company’s vaccine is “right around the corner” from seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA.
“They’re probably a couple of weeks away from getting the data looked at, to have the FDA evaluate whether or not we’re in a situation where we could move ahead and start thinking about getting it out into the public,” he said.
The new vaccine will come with advantages, he said. It will come in a single shot and it won’t need to stay in the cold climate that has made storing and transporting existing vaccines so difficult, Fauci said.
“AstraZeneca is not quite there yet, you know that’s one that’s being tested in multiple countries but it’s a bit behind, but not too far behind,” Fauci said.
Last week, the federal government’s Operation Warp Speep program said it hopes to get the authorization by the end of March, chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said.
“Hopefully the vaccine again is efficacious, as has been shown in the trials conducted in Brazil and in the UK,” Slaoui said. “So maybe an approval somewhere towards the latter part of the month of March, and a significant number of doses available around that time.”