U.S. Needs 500 Million Doses to Vaccinate Everyone 16 and Older

The U.S. needs 500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to fully inoculate everyone 16 and older, according to Andy Slavitt, the Biden administration’s deputy coordinator for pandemic response.

Slavitt, who spoke Wednesday at the first news briefing of the administration’s Covid-19 task force, said that estimate assumes a two-dose regimen and reflects only the vaccines that are currently on the market.

“We are not counting on things that are not in existence today,” he said. Trial results for Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine are expected within days and could change the calculus dramatically, if authorized for emergency use.

The estimate also doesn’t include vaccine doses for children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that children are likely as susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection as adults, according to Angela Campbell, a pediatric infectious disease expert, speaking on a panel about the epidemiology of Covid-19 in youth at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Wednesday.

In another panel focused on the development of Covid-19 vaccines for children, Emily Erbelding, director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, underscored the importance of immunizing youth. The government’s objective, she said, is to provide vaccines for “the whole of the U.S. population,” and that includes children.

Trials to ensure vaccines are safe for the young have begun, Bloomberg reported earlier this month. Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. started recruiting participants at the end of last year, and could have data from studies within the first half of the year. The University of Oxford, which developed a vaccine with AstraZeneca Plc, is planning initial tests in 12- to 18-year-olds next month, and J&J will start trials for children four to six weeks after receiving results from its adult studies.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE have developed the only vaccine so far authorized in the U.S. for 16 and 17-year-olds, though states have yet to launch immunizations among adolescents. Moderna’s shot, meanwhile, is authorized for use in those 18 and older.

Vaccine Supply

Overall so far, 47 million vaccine doses have been delivered to states and long-term care facilities, and about 24 million doses have been administered, Slavitt said, adding that a federal stockpile of vaccine no longer exists. The administration is maintaining a two-to-three day rolling inventory to supplement production.

“We are passing doses directly along to states, very much in real time as they ordered them,” he said.

The Biden administration has been taking steps to increase the supply of vaccine in the country, including announcing a 16% increase in supply shipped to states over the next three weeks. Biden said Tuesday that the administration is working to purchase 200 million more doses from Pfizer and Moderna for the long term.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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