Fauci: On second thought, the vaccine may not be generally available until May or June

Fauci: On second thought, the vaccine may not be generally available until May or June

It was less than a week ago that he estimated April would be “open season” for the wider public to get their shots.

Five days later, the timeline has been pushed back by weeks. Those of us not in a vulnerable class could be waiting three more months just to make an appointment to be vaccinated. The actual vaccination might not happen for weeks after that.

He says he’s revising his estimate because it looks like Johnson & Johnson will miss the target he had in mind for its first tranche of doses. I’ve looked online today, though, and couldn’t find any information about J&J falling short. Maybe he’s heard something behind the scenes that isn’t public yet?

The Times reported on J&J’s manufacturing woes a month ago:

In the company’s $1 billion contract signed with the federal government in August, Johnson & Johnson pledged to have 12 million doses of its vaccine ready by the end of February, ramping up to a total of 100 million doses by the end of June.

Federal officials have been told that the company has fallen as much as two months behind the original production schedule and won’t catch up until the end of April, when it was supposed to have delivered more than 60 million doses, according to two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to discuss it publicly. Carlo de Notaristefani, lead manufacturing adviser for Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine development program, acknowledged a delay, but said the company might be able to catch up with initial production goals by March.

That’s where the initial April timetable came from, I assume. What’s changed since then to have him thinking May or June instead?

There was some good news today from the White House, at least. The number of weekly doses that’ll be shipped to the states is increasing:

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the Biden administration is increasing its vaccine supply to states to 13.5 million doses per week — an increase from the 10 million doses per week the White House had previously announced.

Psaki said the new 13.5 million doses being sent to states is a “57% increase” to the amount being sent on the day Biden took office last month.

Does that mean that we’re not facing any shortages near term, at least if our current daily vaccination rate holds? Right now we’re doing 1.7 million shots per day on average, or just shy of 12 million per week. That means the states are shedding two million doses from their dwindling stockpile every seven days. A clip of 13.5 million doses delivered weekly from the feds solves that problem, at least until the daily rate of doses administered ticks up again.

In lieu of an exit question, read Karol Markowicz on Biden, Fauci, and “the forever pandemic,” in which masks and social distancing inexplicably continue to be part of the recommendations even for people who’ve received both vaccine doses. “We need people to get vaccinated, and the way to speed up this process is to assure people that their lives — their masked, isolated, miserable lives — will change with the shots,” she writes. “Again: Vaccines will end the pandemic. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

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Jazz Shaw 8:01 PM on November 29, 2023