Virtually all available coronavirus vaccine doses will be immediately released to the American public under President-elect Joe Biden, reflecting a significant departure from President Donald Trump’s federal distribution plans, which restrict shipments in an effort to ensure national supply.
The Trump administration has curtailed shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to ensure patients can receive the second dose required for each vaccination. Under the new administration, those shipments will be made immediately available, allowing for more Americans to receive their first dose of the vaccine.
But the new plans could also pose potential distribution complications should Pfizer or Moderna lack the available doses required for patients who have already received their first dose of the vaccine.
The vaccine doses are required to be administered within two weeks of the initial jab. But a spokesperson for the incoming administration said Mr Biden believed Americans need more immediate access to the life-saving vaccination.
“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,” spokesperson TJ Ducklo said in a statement reported by CNN. “He 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.”
The spokesperson told CNN the new administration will share additional details after an orderly transition of power has been conducted.
Some emergency doses of both vaccines will be reserved in the event of a shipment issue, but the bulk of doses will be immediately processed, an official told the news outlet.
The news comes as reports indicate there has been confusion and disruptions in the distribution process of the coronavirus vaccine under Mr Trump.
Members of his coronavirus response task force and Operation Warp Speed have called for increased doses to be shipped immediately, with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging the vaccine distribution team to distribute “reserved doses” as soon as possible, CNN reported.
In a letter to the chief operating officer of the vaccine distribution team, Mr Azar wrote: “Our states are ready to work around the clock to ramp up distribution, get more shots in arms, and save more American lives. General Perna, as you have stated before, ‘a vaccine sitting on a shelf is not effective.’”
“We couldn’t agree with you more,” he added. “That’s why we are asking for your help now. When we work together, we can end this pandemic and return to a life of normalcy sooner.”