Coronavirus vaccines were supposed to be “the light at the end of the tunnel” for the ongoing global pandemic—a sign that, finally, the virus was going to be beaten back. That was the feeling when Pfizer received approval for its vaccine, with the pharmaceutical giant it would deploy nearly three million doses in states around the country in the coming week.
Now, though, states say they’re receiving fewer doses than they expected, leading to questions about just how quickly and effectively the vaccines are being distributed. Nebraska, for example, learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it wouldn’t be receiving any vaccine doses next week—only for governor Pete Ricketts to later clarify that it would receive around 11,700 doses, down from previous estimates of 19,000. Ricketts said the number he’s receiving “are just forecasts and estimates.”
Oregon and Iowa have also reported being told they’ll receive fewer doses; state health officials in Michigan, where the vaccine is made, say they’re scheduled to receive 30 percent less vaccine than they were originally told.
The discrepancies are reportedly part of a scheduling hiccup at the federal level, but an anonymous Trump administration official told The New York Times that Pfizer’s production estimates for the vaccine had dropped in recent weeks.
Pfizer, however, says it has plenty of vaccine. In a statement, the company said, “Pfizer is not having any production issues with our Covid-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed. We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”
The whole situation is an unfortunate reminder that vaccinated millions of people—billions, worldwide—is probably among the greatest logistical challenges humans have ever faced. We may be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we haven’t reached the end of the tunnel, yet.
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