It was less than three weeks ago that he promised enough doses to vaccinate the population by the end of July. Today he’s vowing to have vaccines enough for everyone by the end of May.
Is … is America actually going to have a fun summer this year?
The funnest summer ever, maybe?
Watch, then we’ll figure out what changed to make this possible.
President Biden: "We're now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May."
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 2, 2021
Half the equation is what Ed wrote about this morning, the unusual partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Merck to mass-produce J&J’s vaccine. J&J was supposed to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June. Sounds like Merck’s contribution is going to knock a month off of that estimate, which alone would cover a third or so of the U.S. population. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose, remember, which means people can be fully immunized more rapidly than they can by Pfizer and Moderna. Granted, the data suggests that a single dose of the mRNA vaccines also provides strong immunity, but the Biden medical brain trust led by Fauci remains insistent that people get both doses, just as clinical subjects did in trials. If nothing else, rolling out the J&J shot will ease pressure on vaccine providers by reducing congestion in a system in which many people will be waiting for second appointments.
The other half of the equation is Pfizer and Moderna getting better at making their own vaccines. From last week:
Drug companies told lawmakers Tuesday they project a major increase in vaccine deliveries that will result in 140 million more doses over the next five weeks, saying they have solved manufacturing challenges and are in a position to overcome scarcity that has hampered the nation’s fight against the coronavirus…
The Biden administration told governors Tuesday that doses allotted to states would grow from 13.5 million to 14.5 million per week, and it also directed 2.1 million doses to pharmacies, according to people who participated in a weekly White House call and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the conversation.
According to the Times, a little more than 100 million doses have been delivered so far, enough for 50 million people (since all doses have been either Pfizer or Moderna). Another 100 million from J&J by the end of May will bring us up to a grand total of 150 million people covered, which means we’ll need another 300 million doses during the same span from Pfizer and Moderna to have enough supply for 300 million Americans. That’s 450 million doses total in the span of 13 weeks or an average of 35 million doses per week. Today the White House announced that they’ll be shipping … 18 million doses next week. The weekly numbers will need to basically double for Biden to hit his target. Presumably supplies will remain modest for much of this coming month and then really lift off in April and May.
Biden made another announcement today, about vaccine prioritization. And it was a big one.
NEW: @POTUS is directing all states to prioritize teachers and school staff for the COVID vaccine using the program with pharmacies. He wants every educator to receive their first shots by the end of this month.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 2, 2021
That news was well received by his patrons at the teachers unions, who nonetheless declined to make a firm commitment to return to school once they’ve been vaccinated:
Statement from American Federation of Teachers President @rweingarten after Biden set a goal for every teacher to get a first vaccine shot by the end of the month:
“We’re confident that within the next weeks and months, we’ll be able to be back in classrooms.” pic.twitter.com/mqmY0831ab
— Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) March 2, 2021
I resent that this privilege has to be offered to a class that isn’t at special risk of infection to get them to do their jobs. Every dose allocated to a young, healthy teacher at little risk of a debilitating case of COVID is a dose that isn’t being delivered expeditiously to someone vulnerable who needs it more. But if this is what it takes to get kids back on track developmentally and free up their parents to return to work, I’m willing to swallow the bile and let it go. Get the teachers vaccinated ASAP, and then let’s please not hear another word out of them for the rest of the pandemic.