All Americans Can Get Vaccinated by the End of July
A roundup of the most important Covid-19 vaccine news this week
There are still 20 vaccines in phase 3 trials, six approved for limited use, and four approved for full use in some countries after fully completing phase 3 trials. The fully approved vaccines include those from Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Moderna. Others, including the vaccines from AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V, have been approved for emergency use in several countries. More approvals are soon to come.
Vaccines are being rolled out in many nations, but access to vaccines and vaccination rates vary widely around the world. Many countries have not vaccinated a single person yet. Israel, with 31.4% of its population fully vaccinated, is the leader in the global rollout, followed by Seychelles. The United States is third, with 5.1% of its population fully vaccinated (up from sixth place last week). The vast majority of countries, however, have not yet received any vaccines.
The vaccine supply is increasing in the United States, and it’s predicted that all Americans will be able to get vaccinated by the summer. Meanwhile, the administration is also making good on its promise to commit to helping people in less wealthy countries get vaccinated.
Vaccines will be available to all Americans by the end of July
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said that every American will be able to get a vaccine by the end of July. In conversation with news anchor Anderson Cooper in a CNN Town Hall, Biden said that “by the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses — enough to vaccinate every single American.” While earlier this month, infectious diseases chief Anthony Fauci, MD said that most people could be eligible for “open season” vaccination as early as April, Biden’s comments refer to the actual accessibility of doses to the general public. “They’ll be available,” he said. The White House also confirmed this week that it will increase the weekly allotment of vaccine doses to each state to 13.5 million, an increase of two million from the previous program.
World Health Organization authorizes the AstraZeneca vaccine
On Monday, the WHO officially authorized two versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use, making them available for use in the COVAX program, a vaccine procurement and distribution program for less wealthy countries run partially by the WHO. The move is expected to make millions of doses available for immediate distribution, as the Associated Press noted. The only other vaccine the WHO has authorized for emergency use is Pfizer’s vaccine. AstraZeneca’s vaccine will likely prove to be more useful for COVAX as it doesn’t require deep-cold storage, unlike Pfizer’s.
Biden administration commits to COVAX
On Friday, the Biden administration is expected to pledge $4 billion to COVAX over two years, upholding a promise made by the Trump administration last year. The announcement will happen in a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders about the pandemic, reported NPR, noting that the U.S. contribution to COVAX is not going to affect the national vaccine supply. Novavax, a U.S.-based vaccine maker funded by Operation Warp Speed, also committed to sell 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine to the COVAX effort this week once it is approved.
Public health experts have called on wealthy countries to help ensure an equitable vaccine rollout around the world because widespread global vaccination is the only way to end the spread of Covid-19 and the development of variants. Craig Spencer MD, MPH explained in Elemental this week that “expanding vaccine access to the most vulnerable around the world would help slow the emergence of such variants and ultimately make us all safer.”
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine nears U.S. approval, but it won’t have many doses
The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is expected to become the third approved vaccine in the United States by the first week of March. However, only “a few million” doses will be available by that time, according to a White House adviser who spoke to the New York Times on Wednesday. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is eagerly anticipated because it requires only a single dose and does not need to be frozen. According to the Times, the company is struggling to ramp up production at its Baltimore-based facility.