HealthDay News — President-elect Joe Biden plans to release nearly all available doses of COVID-19 vaccine when he takes office, reversing the Trump administration strategy of holding back half the supply to ensure second doses are available.
The potentially risky move is meant to boost a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program that has gotten off to a slow start, with only about 5.9 million doses administered out of 29.4 million distributed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“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,” T.J. Ducklo, a spokesperson for Biden’s transition, told CNN. Biden “will share additional details next week on how his administration will begin releasing available doses when he assumes office on January 20th.”
“It is very important that people who get the first shot of the vaccine get the second shot. However, I don’t think this federal government holding back supply is going to accomplish this in the most efficient fashion,” Eric Cioe-Pena, M.D., director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York, told HealthDay. “In our health system, we were able to do both shots with most staff without reserving vaccine. The hardest part about our supply chain is going to be early on, the supply should be getting better and better. It does not make sense, given that reality, to hold back vaccine supply for second doses because it is unlikely to be a major factor months from now.”
However, another expert said that too long a delay between doses might be foolhardy: “Expansion of vaccine availability and administration is vital, and releasing all doses may allow for that. But, hopefully, as part of such a plan there will be assurance that more vaccine doses will be produced to ensure patients get their second dose,” David Hirschwerk, M.D., attending physician in infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, told HealthDay. “A slight delay of days or even a few weeks in the second dose would likely be fine, but once longer delays occur the situation gets cloudier.”