POST 101. December 30, 2020.CORONAVIRUS. Is there a point where the increasing Coronavirus trajectory so far exceeds the slow growth of the vaccination rate that reaching herd immunity through vaccinations becomes less likely?

“..264 million people, would need to be inoculated for the nation to reach herd immunity “..“at the current rate, it would take… approximately 10 years to reach that level..”

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“The Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution program needs a major shot in the arm because at the current rate, it would take almost 10 years to inoculate enough Americans to get the pandemic under control, a jarring new NBC News analysis showed Tuesday.

The goal of Operation Warp Speed, a private-public partnership led by Vice President Mike Pence to produce and deliver safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines to the public, is to ensure that 80 percent of the country’s 330.7 million people get the shots by late June.

To meet that goal, a little more than 3 million people would have to get the shots each day, the math shows.

But so far, only about 2 million people — most of them front-line health care workers and some nursing home residents — have gotten their first shots of the 11.5 million doses that were delivered in the last two weeks, a review by NBC News of data from federal and state agencies showed….

Trump, who for months downplayed the danger of the pandemic, which has infected more than 19.4 million people and claimed more than 336,000 lives in the U.S., vowed in September that 100 million doses would be shipped out by the end of the year.

But in December, when the first doses were delivered, Operation Warp Speed’s top scientist, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, cut the projection to 20 million.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading epidemiologist, told CNN on Tuesday, “Well, we certainly are not at the numbers that we wanted to be at the end of December.”” (A)

“”This is warp speed?” Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), asked in a blog post Monday, pointing to the relatively small number of people in the U.S. who have received shots since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use earlier this month.

“We should have had major warehouses located around the country so that as soon as the FDA green-lighted a vaccine, it could quickly be delivered to hospitals and clinics in every corner of the country,” Baker argued. “We should have been prepared to start inoculating millions of people the day a vaccine was approved. This is a massive policy failure.”

Ashish Jha, a physician and dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, echoed Baker’s criticism of the Trump administration in a series of tweets on Monday.

“The worst part is no real planning on what happens when vaccines arrive in states. No plan, no money, just hope that states will figure this out,” Jha wrote. “[State health departments] are trying to stand up a vaccination infrastructure. Congress had given them no money. States are out of money, so many are passing it on to hospitals, nursing homes.”

“Public health has always been a state/federal partnership,” Jha added. “States are stretched. Feds are supposed to help. But the same folks who blamed states for the testing mess now ready to blame states for the vaccine slowdown. They are again setting states up to fail.”

Growing fears about the lagging pace of vaccinations come as Colorado on Tuesday reported the first U.S. case of a more contagious coronavirus variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom. Experts said it is possible that the variant has spread in the Colorado patient’s community and possibly elsewhere in the U.S., which has the highest Covid-19 death toll in the world.

As the New York Times reported, “Scientists are worried about variants but not surprised by them. It is normal for viruses to mutate, and most of the mutations of the coronavirus have proved minor. There’s no evidence that an infection with the variant—known as B.1.1.7—is more likely to lead to a severe case of Covid-19, increase the risk of death or evade the new vaccines.”

“But the speed at which the variant seems to spread,” the Times added, “could lead to more infections—and therefore more hospitalizations,” heightening the urgency of the vaccine rollout.

Leana Wen, visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health, wrote in a column for the Washington Post on Tuesday that the speed of vaccinations thus far “should set off alarms.”…

“Instead of muddying the waters, the federal government needs to take three urgent steps. First, set up a real-time public dashboard to track vaccine distribution,” Wen wrote. “Second, publicize the plan for how vaccination will scale up so dramatically… Third, acknowledge the challenges and end the defensiveness. The public will understand if initial goals need to be revised, but there must be willingness to learn from missteps and immediately course-correct.”” (B)

“At the Operation Warp Speed news conference on Wednesday, Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the effort’s logistics lead, said his team did not have a clear understanding of why these delays were happening. He said the C.D.C. was gathering data to better understand the factors driving the slow uptake. “To have greater specificity at this time, after two weeks, I don’t think would be appropriate,” he said.

But General Perna pointed to a few possible contributing factors. In addition to the lags in reporting, the holiday season and winter weather have delayed uptake. Hospitals and other facilities administering the vaccines are still learning how to store the doses at very cold temperatures and properly administer them. And states have set aside many doses to be given out to their long-term care facilities, a drive that is just gearing up and expected to take several months.” (C)

“President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration Tuesday for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines and predicted that “things will get worse before they get better” when it comes to the pandemic….

Earlier this month, Trump administration officials said they planned to have 20 million doses of the vaccine distributed by the end of the year. But according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control, just over 11.4 million doses have been distributed and only 2.1 million people have received their first dose.

At the current pace, Biden said “it’s gonna take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”

President Donald Trump deflected Biden’s critique. “It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government,” he tweeted Tuesday. “We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states.”

Biden, who takes office Jan. 20, said he has directed his team to prepare a “much more aggressive effort, with more federal involvement and leadership, to get things back on track.”

The president-elect said he would “move heaven and earth to get us going in the right direction.”

He set a goal of administering 100 million shots of the vaccine within his first 100 days in office, but said to accomplish that, the pace of vaccinations would have to increase five to six times to 1 million shots a day. Even with that pace, however, Biden acknowledged it “will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated.”

Biden has made combating the coronavirus pandemic a central focus of his transition work. He has pledged that one of his first acts as president will be to release a comprehensive coronavirus aid bill to Congress that will include funding for expanded vaccinations and testing, among other things. He also has a COVID-19 task force working on ways to better streamline the government response to the pandemic and help turn the tide of infections.

Still, Biden warned that it would take months after he’s in office for Americans to see positive change in the course of the virus.

“Turning this around is going to take time. We might not see improvement until we’re well into March, as it will take time for our COVID response plan to produce visible progress,” he said.” (D)

“Projecting the pace of actual vaccinations into the future yields a grim conclusion.

Based on the judgment that 80% of Americans, or 264 million people, would need to be inoculated for the nation to reach herd immunity — that is, enough immunity that the virus can’t spread significantly even among the unvaccinated — public health expert Leana Wen of George Washington University estimated that “at the current rate, it would take the United States approximately 10 years to reach that level of inoculation.”…

Yet many of the factors slowing the pace of vaccinations are obvious. They include inadequate planning and the administration’s refusal to take more of the task in hand. The latter reflects Trump’s approach to the pandemic from the start. Boiled down to its essence, that approach has been: “It’s not our problem.”…

But experts say that leaving vaccine administration solely to the states is no answer at all. What was needed—and isn’t coming—is federal coordination.

There has been “no real planning on what happens when vaccines arrive in state,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted this week. “No plan, no money, just hope that states will figure this out.”

The state health departments likely to inherit the task of vaccine management are already hopelessly overstretched, Jha observed. All year long they’ve been grappling with the need to “manage all the testing, data analysis & reporting, providing advice to businesses, schools, doing public campaigns, etc. Non-stop.” Now they’ll have vaccination loaded on their plates….

Murky advice from the CDC about which cohorts should receive priority for vaccination during a period of straitened supply has left states to craft their policies on their own. Even in ideal circumstances, not every state might adhere to CDC recommendations, but the situation isn’t helped by the Trump administration’s systematic destruction of the reputation of the CDC, once the gold standard for public health agencies”…(E)

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(A)Operation Warp Speed at a crawl: Adequately vaccinating Americans will take 10 years at current pace, By Joe Murphy and Corky Siemaszko, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/current-rate-it-ll-be-10-years-americans-adequately-vaccinated-n1252486

(B) ‘This Is Warp Speed?’ At Current Pace, US Will Take 10 Years to Adequately Vaccinate the Public Against Covid-19, Analysis Warns, by Jake Johnson, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/12/30/warp-speed-current-pace-us-will-take-10-years-adequately-vaccinate-public-against

(C) Warp Speed Officials Say Covid Vaccine Distribution Is Going Too Slowly, By Rebecca Robbins, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/health/covid-vaccines-slow-rollout.html?referringSource=articleShare

(D)Biden vows to accelerate vaccine rollout after data shows current pace would take 10 years, by Alexandra Jaffe, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/biden-criticizes-covid-19-coronavirus-vaccine-distribution-pace-20201229.html

(E) Column: Unsurprisingly, Trump’s rollout of the COVID vaccine is an utter fiasco, By MICHAEL HILTZIK, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-12-30/trump-coronavirus-vaccine-distribution-delays

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