U.S. plans to ship 2.9 million Covid vaccine doses as early as the end of this week


U.S. officials said the federal government plans to start distributing 2.9 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of this week once the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency clearance for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which could come as early as Thursday or Friday.

Gen. Gustave Perna, who oversees logistics for President Donald Trump’s vaccine program Operation Warp Speed, said an additional 2.9 million doses will be set aside for patients to get their second shot. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses administered three weeks apart. The government has also set aside a reserve of 500,000 doses in case of an emergency or manufacturing hiccup, he said.

Setting spare doses aside is “good Army general officer planning,” Perna said Wednesday during a press briefing on Covid vaccine distribution, “so that we make sure that in case we need to react to some situation we had some reserves.”

Eventually, the federal government and states will be more “confident” in the distribution process of the vaccine and a reserve will no longer be necessary, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is leading Operation Warp Speed, said at the same press briefing. “That is the method that we’re using for the initial distributions,” he added.

The officials said the initial doses would go to 64 jurisdictions as well as five federal agencies – the Bureau of Prisons, Department of Defense, Department of State, Indian Health Service and Veterans Health Administration. The Department of Defense is slated to start distributing its first 44,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as early as next week, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

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