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Biden administration increases shipments to states, pharmacies

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Cardboard boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine are being prepared for shipment on December 13, 2020 at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing facility in Portage, Michigan.

Morry Gash | Getty Images

Biden’s administration is increasing the number of Covid-19 vaccine doses sent weekly to states, sending out 13.5 million doses this week and doubling the number of vaccine doses going to retail pharmacies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

As of last week, the government has been shipping 11 million cans to states every week. Overall, Psaki said, the government has increased the number of cans shipped to states weekly by 57% since President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Psaki also announced that the White House is doubling the number of cans it will ship direct to retail pharmacies across the country, expanding from 1 million cans to 6,500 pharmacies last week. Psaki said the White House will deliver 2 million cans a week to stores in the future and plans to eventually expand to 40,000 stores across the country.

“This program will expand access to neighborhoods across the country so people can call and make an appointment to get their picture conveniently and quickly,” she said. “This is a critical, critical part of our plan.”

The government has announced a gradual increase in the amount of vaccine distributed each week, while opening new distribution channels such as pharmacies, community health centers and state-run vaccination centers. After a slower-than-expected initial launch of the vaccine, many states are now saying the lack of supply from the federal government is the biggest limitation.

The rate of vaccination across the country has increased in recent weeks, and the difference between administered and administered doses has narrowed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 52.8 million doses had been administered as of Sunday out of 70 million doses given to states.

Biden announced last week that the US had received 100 million more doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and 100 million more of the Moderna vaccine, bringing the total US supply to 600 million doses. The Food and Drug Administration is also expected to approve Johnson & Johnson’s one-off Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use later this month.

This is unlikely to be an instant blessing, but it will help increase the number of doses available to Americans in late spring and summer. Dr. White House health advisor Anthony Fauci said Tuesday the vaccine could be available to any American who wants it by May, a little later than his previous forecast of opening access to the vaccine in April.

“It could be June, July and August before everyone is vaccinated,” he said on CNN. “So when you hear how long it will take for the vast majority of the population to be vaccinated, no one will agree that it will be good by the end of summer and that we will get to early fall.”

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Robert Dunfee