THE US could soon administer one million or more Covid-19 vaccinations daily, Dr Anthony Fauci said Tuesday, after several weeks of “glitches” that put the country behind schedule.
Only about one-third of the first coronavirus vaccine supplies distributed across the country over past three weeks had been used as of Tuesday morning.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert acknowledged the slow start is frustrating, but offered a more positive outlook on the effort in the coming weeks.
"Any time you start a big program, there's always glitches,” Fauci said.
“I think the glitches have been worked out.”
The pace has already grown to about half a million injections per day, Fauci said, and it could double with the holidays in the past.
“Once you get rolling and get some momentum, I think we can achieve one million a day or even more," he said.
At that vaccination pace, the US could experience a decline in infections by the spring and “you could start thinking about returning to some degree of normality” in the fall, Fauci said.
Fauci added that President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of administering 100million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office is “very realistic, important, achievable.”
In December, the Trump administration vowed to give states enough vaccine doses for 20million people but did not make that figure.
As of Tuesday morning, about 4.8million vaccine doses of the more than 17million that have been sent across the nation had been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In order for the US to reach herd immunity, 70 to 85 percent of Americans, or up to 280 million people, must get vaccinated, Fauci predicted.
As the vaccination effort ramps up, however, coronavirus cases continue to surge.
More than 356,000 Americans have died and Fauci warned that the next few weeks could see a boost in infections “that could make matters even worse.”
State leaders are also pushing to speed up vaccination rates.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told hospitals to “move it quickly” on using their vaccine allotments or possibly face fines.
Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper requested the National Guard to help move the process along.
And South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster gave hospitals and health care workers a Jan. 15 deadline to get the jab or “move to the back of the line.”
Fauci said that the United Kingdom coronavirus strain that has arrived in the US is not dominant but that health experts are “going to follow it very carefully.”
Scientists are also keeping an eye on a South African variant that has not been reported in the US but may be more resistant to the current coronavirus vaccines.
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