White House says vaccine supply is increasing

By Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFranier

As winter storms threatened to upend distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the White House on Tuesday said that states collectively would begin receiving 13.5 million doses each week — a jump of over 2 million doses due in part to a shift in the way the government is allocating doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. And Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said that a new federal pharmacy program will now provide 2 million weekly doses, a doubling of its initial supply.

The increases were welcome developments for state officials desperate to inoculate more vulnerable Americans before more contagious variants of virus take hold.

The latest boost in supply came partly because Pfizer, as of this week, is getting credit for six doses instead of five doses per vial, a White House spokesperson said. Two-thirds of the boost was due to increased output, the spokesperson said.

Psaki told reporters Tuesday that with the latest increase, vaccine deliveries had jumped 57% since President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

The announcement Tuesday came as winter storms in the South continued to disrupt vaccine distribution. Vaccine appointments were rescheduled or canceled from Texas to Kentucky.

A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that the government was projecting “widespread delays” in vaccine shipments and deliveries in the coming days, as weather was affecting a FedEx facility in Memphis, Tennessee, and a UPS facility in Louisville, Kentucky, both vaccine shipping hubs.

The president last week announced that the federal government had secured 200 million more doses, bringing the total amount promised to 600 million, or enough to cover 300 million Americans. But he warned that logistical hurdles would most likely mean that many Americans will still not have been vaccinated by the end of the summer.

On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and adviser to Biden, revised his estimate from last week, when he predicted the beginning of an “open season” by April. “That timeline will probably be prolonged, maybe into mid-to-late May and early June,” he said in an interview with CNN.

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