- BBC World News
The United States is beating its most optimistic vaccine forecasts.
This Tuesday, the government announced that as of April 19, adults of any age will be able to receive the vaccine, much earlier than expected by the president. Joe Biden, who since he assumed the presidency on January 20 made vaccination his priority.
This is an advance over the May 1 date that Biden had announced several weeks ago. Any adult, regardless of age, medical condition or occupation, will be able to access immunization, something that already happens informally.
That does not mean, however, that anyone will get it easily since certain distribution problems still persist.
The cause of this advance is the high rate of vaccination that the country is reaching.
In the last week the average three million vaccines a day and the weekend a record was recorded with more than four million.
In January, half a million doses were given daily.
This rate, however, does not mean that the pandemic is under control. In fact, federal authorities warn about the relaxation of measures in some states and insist on remembering the use of masks and maintaining social distance.
“We see that this occurs mostly among young adults,” he said. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), on Monday, the day in which more than 79,000 cases and more than 600 deaths were registered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The more cases, the more possibilities for the development of variants, hence vaccination is essential.
Here we review some of the keys to this rapid rate of vaccination in the country.
1. Previous agreements with 3 vaccines “made in USA”
The United States has the advantage of having approved three vaccines that are produced in the country. In December, the Pfizer and Moderna, which require two doses, and in February the single dose of Johnson&Johnson.
And that also facilitated agreements with the government. The administration of Donald Trump, then president, bought millions of doses at the end of last year before the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were even approved.
This advance meant that once they received the approval of the health authorities, the distribution processes were accelerated and that the pharmaceutical companies were almost entirely dedicated to the production of vials for use in the United States.
Moderna and Pfizer began manufacturing them before clinical trials ended.
With what was called “Operation Warp Speed,” the Trump administration worked together with various companies to develop vaccines that were still in the testing process in order to shorten production and distribution times if they finally worked.
Moncef Slaoui, who led the operation, claimed the credit for the previous Trump administration.
“90% of what is happening now is the plan that we made,” Slaoui claimed on television recently.
“We achieved 100 million doses of the vaccine and the options in the contracts to purchase more once they were effective.”
But the United States does not stop there and authorization for vaccines from AstraZeneca y Novavax. If cleared, more vaccines would be available and the rate of vaccination would increase.
Also, available vaccines are not licensed for children under 16 years of age, but Pfizer has already shown promising results in a vaccine for children.
2. The Biden effect
Although the Democratic leader took advantage in part of what the Trump administration did, he put mass vaccination of the country as the main goal on his agenda.
The idea was to stop the cases and deaths as quickly as possible, and thus be able to reactivate the economy.
This Tuesday, the Biden government announced that the country had already put 150 million vaccines in its first 75 days in office. Its initial goal had been 100 million in 100 days, now revised upwards to 200 million, a number that could also be exceeded if this rate is maintained or accelerated.
According to CDC data, as of Monday, April 5, 107.5 million people havebían received at least one dose, including 62.4 million with the one-time injection from Johnson & Johnson and the two from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
By January 26, when Biden had been in office for just six days, 20 million people had received the first dose and 3.5 million the second, according to CDC data.
In early March, Biden achieved a political triumph by announcing the agreement between Johnson&Johnson y su rival Merck, the second largest vaccine producer in the world to now make its opponent’s vaccine after failing to have its own vial.
Johnson & Johnson’s $ 1 billion contract originally negotiated last year by the Trump administration said the firm would supply enough doses for 87 million Americans by the end of May, which together with the other two vaccines would mean by then that there would be vaccines for all the adults in the country.
But Johnson & Johnson fell short of expectations, prompting the White House to intervene. Hence the agreement with Merck, which will therefore receive government funding.
“This is the kind of collaboration between companies that we saw in World War II,” Biden compared.
The government began working with Johnson & Johnson by providing the company with a team of experts to monitor production and logistical support from the Department of Defense.
Additionally, the president invoked a Korean War-era law to give the company access to supplies needed to make and package vaccines.
While Trump entrusted the plan to the states, Biden took control from Washington to make the vaccination really massive, and focused on buying enough doses not only for care centers, the first to receive the vaccines, but for them to arrive. as soon as possible to the entire population.
3. More vaccines and more and more places
One of the keys is that vaccines are available in many places.
For this there are two basic aspects: production and distribution.
As to the production, vaccine manufacturers are making more and more doses available to the authorities.
After a slow start, Pfizer and Moderna have gained experience and increased production by even making needed products themselves.
Pfizer, for example, recycles a special filter that it required in the production process, and Moderna cut the time for inspection and packaging of the vials.
Pfizer went from producing five million weekly vaccines to 13 now.
And Johnson & Johnson is cooperating with Merck to increase its production.
In March, the analysis firm Evercore estimated that the three manufacturers reached 132 million vaccines, triple from February and less than what was estimated in April.
The government hopes that by the end of May there will be enough vaccines for all adults in the country.
Refering to distribution, the federal government has nearly 30 mass vaccination mega-centers across the country run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in addition to those run by each state.
Thousands of soldiers are providing additional support in these types of facilities.
But you can also go to medical centers, pharmacies and even supermarkets to receive the dose.
The White House told state governors on Tuesday that a total of more than 28 million doses will be distributed to them this week.
Beyond maintaining those locations, where it is expected that more and more vaccines will be available and it will be easier to get an appointment, the government seeks to expand and reach the poorest communities, traditionally those of black and Latino populations.
“People of color are being vaccinated at a slower rate than the general population,” the doctor recently admitted. Marcella Núñez-Smith, Head of Equality in the Biden government’s coronavirus task force. “That can and must change.”
A greater lack of access to information and the internet to make an appointment is one of the causes, as well as a greater reluctance to vaccination on the part of these communities after failed clinical trials in the past.
That is why one of the pending tasks of the distribution is to bring the vaccines to these areas and highlight the relevance of receiving the injection.
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