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COVID-19 vaccine shortages in U.S.: Federal government has none in reserve

Christian Fernsby |
Scattered vaccine shortages in the U.S. prompted at least one large New York healthcare system to cancel appointments for people hoping to be inoculated.

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Topics: U.S.   

In New York, the country's most populous city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has vaccinated about 300,000 of its more than 8 million residents, but was on course to run dry next week because it was burning through vaccines faster than they were being replenished.

"We've been getting resupply right now at a very paltry level of about 100,000 doses a week," de Blasio said on WNYC radio. "We went through 125,000 in the first four days of this week, and our numbers are increasing every day."

Only 12.3 million doses have been administered, with only 10.6 million people having received at least one of the two required shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown said a federal official told her the state would not receive additional vaccine supplies because the federal government has none in reserve.

"I am demanding answers from the Trump administration," Brown said on Twitter.

Similarly, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he was "extremely disappointed" that the US Department of Health and Human Services "lied to" his state about promised reserved, second doses of the vaccine.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government would begin distributing a reserve of vaccines to states, a position also taken by the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who takes over on Jan 20.

However, the Washington Post reported on Friday morning that the federal government does not have a remaining reserve of the two approved vaccines, one by Pfizer and partner BioNTech and a second from Moderna, which has emergency use authorisation.

Citing unidentified officials, the Post reported the reserve, which the federal government said was initially set aside for the second doses that each vaccine requires, had already been distributed starting in late December.


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