“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,” a Biden transition spokesman, T.J. Ducklo, said in a statement. “He believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now.”
The statement also said that the president-elect plans to provide additional details next week “on how his administration will begin releasing available doses” when he takes office Jan. 20.
The question of whether to reserve vaccines to guarantee supplies for a second dose has become a heated question in recent days. The first vaccine approved for public use, developed by Pfizer, requires people who are immunized to return 21 days after a first dose for a second shot for it to be fully effective, based on data from clinical trials. The other vaccine requires a second dose at 28 days.
President Trump’s senior health officials have maintained that it is essential, especially when manufacturing of the vaccine is still a relatively new process, that half the existing doses should be held in reserve for the second dose. Otherwise, they have warned, either some people would risk having that second dose delayed, or vaccine intended as initial doses might need to be diverted to be used as second doses for those who have received their initial shots.
However, eight Democratic governors dispatched a letter Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s arm created to develop and distribute vaccine in a hurry. The letter, obtained by The Washington Post, says: “Our states and our residents need more vaccines now. This need is all the more urgent with the onset of the new variant of the virus.”
The mutant variant, first seen in Britain, is considered more transmissible, but there is no evidence that it carries a greater risk of severe disease or death.