His remarks came amid mounting concerns that the distribution of Covid vaccines was slower than expected and that the Trump administration missed its original target of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. To date, just over 4 million Americans have received their first of two, according to the CDC, Covid shots and an additional 13 million doses have been given to states.
Federal officials said the U.S. needs to vaccinate roughly 80 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus and is looking for ways to speed up vaccination efforts if cases continue to increase. The US has reported more than 20.4 million cases and 350,000 deaths to date.
Earlier Sunday, the federal leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned the government should not deviate from the doses and schedules used in clinical trials with the vaccines, adding that distribution efforts need to be more efficient.
“We know what science is telling us,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” without addressing Slaoui’s suggestion directly. “So my feeling … is that we’re going to do what clinical trials told us to do. But let’s work more efficiently to get it into people’s arms.”
Fauci and Surgeon General Jerome Adams said they are working with governors to speed up vaccinations.
“We need to understand that this virus also appeared in the middle of a surge. And much of the local ability to vaccinate has been used to test and respond to voltage spikes, “Adams said on CNN’s State of the Union.” But the good news is that we are seeing it rise rapidly. Thanks to our government partners. “
The US, like most countries, has withheld half of its supplies of Covid vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna to ensure that everyone who gets their first dose gets the second dose. In the meantime, the UK changed its guidelines last week to give as many people as possible the first dose, while the second dose may be delayed. This is causing concern among scientists, who say there is no evidence that the vaccine is effective without completing the full regimen.
Slaoui rejected the idea of a similar approach in the US, saying it was not responsible to give starting doses without making sure people get their second dose with no data to back it up.