In a significant shift from current policy, President-elect Joe Biden plans to release all available doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, CNN has reported. The announcement signals a break from President Trump’s policy of withholding half of production for second dosages.
That means more people will get the first dosage sooner, ensuring at least some protection from a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the nation for nearly a year. Because manufacturing has been slow, there is a risk that second dosages may be delayed.
According to T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for the Biden transition team, the calculated risks in the cost-benefit strike the right balance.
“The president-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” he said. “[Biden] supports releasing available doses immediately and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now,”
Additional details will be announced next week, Ducklo said.
Biden’s policy move is aligned with recommendations of some state governors who have urged the federal government to initiate broader distribution of available “reserved doses.”
In contrast to the president-elect’s proposals, the current administration has emphasized the importance of the second dose and has urged holding back on broader availability of the first one, even amid rising death and hospitalization rates.
Scientific research appears to agree with Biden. A study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that giving first doses to more people may slow the number of new cases by as much as 29 percent.
At the same time, officials with the Food and Drug Administration have stressed the importance of the second dose, warning against stretching the supply for first doses.
“Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Dr. Peter Marks, head of the vaccine division, said in a joint statement.
In addition to altering the rollout schedule, Biden wants to establish federal vaccination centers and allocate federal funds to expand states’ efforts to make vaccines available to the general public, establishing greater inter-government partnerships to do so.
“I’m gonna need [Congress’s] help in making sure that we establish thousands of federally run and federally supported community vaccination centers of various sizes across the country,” Biden said, noting athletic stadiums and other large venues could be utilized.
Biden’s Break From Trump Widens With COVID Vaccine Rollout Plan The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ International Business Times.