- The White House is instituting a “use or lose it” policy for states’ COVID-19 vaccine allocations.
- States with lower demand may have to redistribute their vaccine supply, The Washington Post reports.
- Average daily vaccine doses have fallen from 3.5 million in mid-April to 2.3 million in early May.
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With COVID-19 vaccination rates tapering off in the United States, the White House is telling states to use or lose their vaccine supply, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Four months into the US’s vaccine rollout, the seven-day average of vaccine doses administered a day has fallen from a peak of 3.5 million in mid-April to 2.3 million in early May, according to The New York Times. As of Tuesday, 56% of the US’s adult population had received at least one shot, and 40% had been fully vaccinated.
The US is nearing a tipping point of vaccine supply outpacing demand. But vaccination rates vary by region.
Upwards of 50% of people in states in the Northeast and New England have received at least one shot, while several states in the South and the West have less than 40% of their populations vaccinated, partly because of factors like higher rates of hesitancy and refusal to get the vaccine.
Until now, a state’s weekly allocation of vaccines, based on its adult population, would roll over into the next week. But states where supply exceeds demand can now give their unordered doses to states with more of a need for them, The Post reported.
The report said the White House was looking to “steer untapped vaccine into a federal bank available to states where demand continues to outstrip supply.”
The Biden administration is aiming to take a more flexible approach to target the most vulnerable people who remain unvaccinated, Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 task force coordinator, told The Post.
The US is also under pressure to share its supply of vaccines with other countries, like India, that are facing devastating COVID-19 outbreaks. The US’s neighbors are also seeking help because they have far less capacity to manufacture vaccines and have immunized smaller portions of their populations.
Last week, the White House announced it would begin sharing its unused doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which has not been authorized for emergency use in the US, with other countries once the vaccine is cleared through a federal safety process. Up to 60 million doses of that vaccine could be available to export.
The leading drug companies manufacturing the vaccines are also under pressure to release their patents and give up their intellectual-property rights to the vaccines, which would allow them to be distributed at a greater scale worldwide.