States expecting fewer vaccine doses than promised: report

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The federal government has downgraded the quantity of coronavirus vaccine it projects it will distribute in December from 300 million to closer to 40 million doses, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna are slated to receive hearings for Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations in the weeks ahead. The government has since announced it will distribute the vaccine on a staggered scale to ensure state supplies do not run short before the second dosage, which comes 21 days after the initial dosage.

Among the states receiving a lower allocation than expected is Maine, which is set to receive just 12,675 doses, down from the original estimate of 36,000, according to the Post.

Gov. Janet Mills (D) called the new assessment “far less than what is needed for Maine and proportionally for other states as well” in a news conference last week.

Officials with both he Trump administration and the drugmakers said the reduction was due to a combination of raw material bottlenecks and manufacturing issues.

“There were a couple of our vaccine candidates that took significantly longer, in terms of failed batches, in terms of not having the purity we sought,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Post. “We have cracked the code on these things but we’re two months behind on some of them.”

While supply is projected to quicken in early 2021, it will still fall behind the “several hundred million doses” predicted in May by Moncef Slaoui, the leader of the government’s Operation Warp Speed.

Operation Warp Speed officials have said they expect to begin distributing 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine within 24 hours of its authorization. The authorization hearing is set for Dec. 10.

“We will need to make decisions on where to send a very limited supply initially that will leave many unsatisfied until the supply improves to meet demand. For example, is it preferable to give more sites a smaller number of doses, or a few sites more doses, when all serve people in the first tier to be offered vaccine?” Jeff Duchin, a top official at the Seattle and King County Health Department, told the Post.

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