WASHINGTON D.C. – Following four weeks of vaccine distribution from the federal government to states, Warp Speed leaders are confident supply is meeting demand. So much so, Warp Speed leaders want states to start administering more COVID-19 vaccines to larger groups of people.
“The cadence of what’s being shipped is really a remarkable feat for all of us. The whole of America to be proud of,” said General Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the process is working so well on the federal end, Warp Speed now needs states to step it up. He compared it to people boarding a flight.
“You don’t wait until literally every person has boarded before moving on to the next. You have to keep the process moving,” said Secretary Azar.
Azar and the CDC want states to essentially stop being tied to phased vaccine distribution. Azar said Tuesday phases were only supposed to be in place until supply could meet demand. Azar also implied some states are dragging their feet when, according to Warp Speed, there’s enough vaccine to give to at-risk populations, not just frontline workers and those over the age of 75.
Warp Speed is also changing how vaccine is distributed. No longer will it be just per capita. Instead, it will hinge on data for how fast and efficiently states are using their vaccine allotments.
“If you are not using vaccine that you have the right to, we should be rebalancing to states that are using that vaccine. It’s common sense. We want to give notice because of these data issues,” said Azar.
By data issues, Azar is referring to slow vaccine administration rates. Warp Speed and the CDC believe vaccination data is not being uploaded to a national database in a timely fashion. Warp Speed expects that data to move faster now that distributors will have their allotments tied to data reporting.
Warp Speed leaders also expect commercial pharmacies and other locations will soon have regular shipments of vaccine.
“States should move on to pharmacies, community health centers and mass vaccination sites,” said Azar.
Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield made it a point Tuesday to urge people that come down with COVID-19 to consult with doctors about potential treatments instead of just waiting it out.
“We have products on the shelves that can keep people out of the hospital. That is just as unacceptable as vaccines sitting on the shelves unused,” said Azar.