The demand for Covid-19 vaccine doses may outpace supply at the moment, but availability is already looking better for the months ahead, Anthony Fauci said Sunday morning.
“The demand clearly outstrips the supply right now,” Fauci told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “If you look at the escalation of availability of doses purely on the ability and the capability of manufacturing, it’s going to escalate and will continue to escalate as we go from February to March to April and beyond.”
Fauci also addressed recent arguments suggesting the U.S. should delay the second dose of the vaccine in order to offer more Americans the first shot. Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who appeared on “Meet the Press” last week, has argued for more research on any issues associated with delaying a second — but Fauci says the existing data supports sticking to the current timetable.
“If you want to really study it to see that — the amount of time that it will take, the amount of people you would have to put into the study — by that time, we will already be in the arena of having enough, having enough vaccines to go around anyway. So from a theoretical standpoint, it would be nice to know, if you just give one dose, how long the durability lasts and what is the level of effect,” Fauci said on “Meet the Press.”
“But what we have right now and what we must go with, is the scientific data that we’ve accumulated, and it’s really very solid. We know that with each of these, it’s either 21 days or 28 days. You can do both. You can get as many people in their first dose at the same time as adhering, within reason, to the timetable of the second dose. So, it’d be great to have the study, but I don’t think we could do it in time.”
In terms of manufacturing, Fauci emphasized that the doses are “coming off the line as quickly as we can.” He specifically cited an uptick in available Moderna and Pfizer doses heading into March and April, as well as the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine that is expected to be made available in the coming months.
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb also commented on the availability of the current Covid-19 vaccines, as well as their efficiency, especially with regard to the new emerging variants of the virus.
“We can assume that the new vaccines are probably going to be about 20 percent less effective against these new variants from Brazil and South Africa,” Gottlieb said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
But Gottlieb noted that even if the protection against the new variants isn’t as “profound” with the current vaccines, “you’re still getting very good protection with those vaccines.”
When asked if the Biden administration’s distribution plan, based on giving doses based on population, is still the best method, Gottlieb said: “I think for now [it is.]”
“We’ve had some days where there are 2 million vaccines that have been delivered,” he said. “I think we’ll see that more consistently. That will be the run rate. By the end of March, we’ll have delivered 250 million vaccines onto the market, if the J&J vaccine gets authorized. In April, we’ll probably deliver another 100 million vaccines onto the market.”