Millions of lifesaving vaccine doses stuck in limbo as Pfizer awaits instructions from Trump administration


Virus Outbreak Vaccine Texas (Austin American-Statesman)
Virus Outbreak Vaccine Texas (Austin American-Statesman)

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant behind the first coronavirus vaccine approved for emergency use by the FDA, said it has “millions more doses sitting in our warehouse” but has not yet received shipping instructions from the federal government in a statement.

The statement came this week as new reporting indicated the second round of shipments for the vaccine scheduled for next week could be significantly reduced due to apparent distribution issues — even though the company says it has plenty more of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. Government to the locations specified by them,” Pfizer said. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”

President Donald Trump’s calls for nearly 300 million vaccines to be made available by 2021 have been walked back by members of Operation Warp Speed, the federal initiative launched earlier this year to ramp up research and production of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Officials said they would be able to distribute at least 20 million doses before the New Year, with most of those going to medical and frontline workers, as well as the elderly and those most vulnerable to the worst symptoms associated with Covid-19, responsible for more than 307,000 deaths across the country.

The US has seen over 3,000 people dying every 24 hours in recent days, according to tracking data, a disturbing trend in some ways contradicted by the positive news surrounding vaccine distribution.

On Friday, a second vaccine developed by the company Moderna was also approved for emergency use, with shipments available for distribution as early as next week.

But the news of potentially stalled Pfizer vaccine shipments caused alarm among officials and lawmakers who said they were barely given a heads up about the apparent change in distribution plans, with little warning or explanation.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement on Thursday that the state’s vaccine allocation “will be cut by 40 percent next week” and noted that “all states are seeing similar cuts” in their distributions.

“This is disruptive and frustrating, he said. “We need accurate, predictable numbers to plan and ensure on-the-ground success.”

The governor said “no explanation was given” for the reduction and noted his state remained committed “to getting all doses we are allocated out to healthcare providers and into the arms” of residents, writing on Twitter: “While we push for answers, that commitment will not change.”





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