- 4.5 million Americans have already received a coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna.
- The figure is a lot lower than many health experts were anticipating.
- Dr. Fauci believes the U.S. can ramp up distribution and start vaccinating 1 million Americans every day over the next few weeks.
The optimism that accompanied the first wave of coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. has given way to frustration on account of a slower than anticipated rollout. According to recent data from the CDC, 4.5 million Americans have been vaccinated over the past two weeks, a figure which is significantly lower than what many health experts were hoping for. Recall, Moncef Slaoui, a top advisor to Operation Warp Speed, predicted that upwards of 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of January.
“We agree that that number is lower than what we hoped for,” Slaoui said last week. “We know that it should be better and we’re working hard to make it better.”
The good news, though, is that vaccinations in the U.S. could ramp up sooner rather than later, according to recent remarks from Dr. Anthony Fauci.
During an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz over the weekend, Fauci articulated that vaccinating 1 million Americans per day is possible once allocation, distribution, shipping, and administration issues become more streamlined.
“But some little glimmer of hope is that in the last 72 hours they’ve gotten 1.5 million doses into people’s arms,” Fauci said, “which is an average of about 500,000 a day, which is much better than the beginning when it was much, much less than that. So we are not where we want to be, there’s no doubt about that, but I think we can get there if we really accelerate, get some momentum going, and see what happens as we get into the first couple of weeks of January.”
Fauci also looked back to smallpox vaccination efforts in the late 1940s as a reason to be hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations can ramp up swiftly.
“The goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days is a realistic goal,” Fauci said. “We can do 1 million people per day. You know we’ve done massive vaccination programs, Martha, in our history. There’s no reason why we can’t do it right now.
“New York City in March and April of 1947 vaccinated 6,350,000 people; 5 million of which they did in two weeks,” Fauci added. “I was a six-year-old boy who was one of those who got vaccinated. So, if New York City can do 5 million in two weeks, the United States could do a million a day. We can do it.”
Per the CDC, 15 million vaccines have been shipped to the U.S. thus far, which is to say the current bottleneck is a result of distribution inefficiencies as opposed to supply shortages. In some areas, there have been problems with getting enough qualified individuals to administer the vaccine. In other areas, some hospitals received more vaccines than they needed.
If the U.S. can right the ship and start vaccinating the public en masse, Fauci believes that we might be able to achieve herd immunity as early as June.