Dr. Marc Siegel: Speeding up COVID vaccinations — will Biden’s reversal of Trump coverage assist or harm?

President-elect Joe Biden launched a vital ingredient of his new coronavirus vaccine plan Friday, as his workplace introduced he doesn’t intend to carry again doses of the licensed vaccines to make sure that folks already vaccinated have a ready dose for a second shot.

This is a reversal of what the Trump administration has been doing.

“The president-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” stated Biden spokesman T.J. Ducklo. “He supports releasing available doses immediately, and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now.”


Biden’s technique apparently assumes drug producers will have the ability to produce sufficient vaccines to allow folks to get their second dose in a well timed method, and he pledges to invoke the Defense Production Act to make it possible for sufficient vaccines and provides are made out there.

On the floor this plan would seem to contradict Food and Drug Administration policy. This coverage authorizing the emergency use of vaccines produced by drug corporations Pfizer and Moderna was primarily based on medical trials that confirmed the vaccines had been secure and about 95% efficient for folks receiving two pictures at set intervals

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.It is unattainable to determine with certainty precisely what one shot alone would imply by way of persistent immunity, since this has solely been studied at the side of a second shot.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn spoke with me about this on SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio” this week and said that he believes the second shot should be given on the predetermined studied interval below the phrases of the emergency use authorization for the 2 vaccines.

This shouldn’t be essentially the identical factor as saying the second vaccine doses ought to stay in federal deep freeze. In truth, I’ve no downside in any respect with the Biden plan offering that the recipients adhere to the phrases of the FDA’s conditional approval. In different phrases, enhance the vaccine provide, however guarantee correct administration primarily based on present science and federal legislation.

The half that should change is the strict adherence to the pecking order. This is supposed as steerage solely, however is being too strictly enforced.

This is the primary motive that with over 22 million vaccine doses distributed as of Friday evening, solely 7 million pictures have been administered.

Stories abound of vaccines being discarded after they haven’t been utilized in time after being unfrozen.

It is tragic that laws are getting in the best way of immunizations, particularly when there are many custodial staff, meals preparers, aged sufferers and different high-risk people who would line as much as take vaccines that all of a sudden grew to become out there.

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Every hospital, clinic, pharmacy and vaccine heart that’s administering the COVID-19 vaccines wants a “B” record of people who find themselves wanting to get a shot. At the identical time, we want extra vaccine facilities, staffed across the clock, and extra flexibility — no more pink tape.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced an informal rule for his state that he has named after his mom, referred to as Matilda’s Rule.

As of Monday, everybody listed as “1-B” for vaccine precedence — folks over age 75; these at excessive danger of COVID-19 problems; and important staff together with police, firefighters, postal staff and lecturers — might be eligible a the vaccination.

But on the identical time, the governor stated Friday that it may take as much as 14 weeks (mid-April) earlier than this group is absolutely vaccinated. His mom, he indicated, could be no exception.


I acquired dozens of calls and emails from my aged sufferers Friday asking for a vaccine, however I’ve needed to inform each certainly one of them {that a} reservation is a promise — not an appointment.

Even although there are plans to construct a vaccine heart within the Javits Center in New York City and to increase capabilities throughout the state, will probably be a very long time earlier than the provision is there to fulfill the total demand.

In the meantime, Cuomo’s extra laws and prioritizations and threatened fines clearly sluggish the wheels of progress in direction of widespread vaccinations that can result in herd immunity. Cuomo introduced Monday that hospitals in his state could possibly be fined $100,000 if they didn’t administer all their vaccine doses this week, and could possibly be denied additional doses.

As I wrote in my ebook, “COVID: The Politics of Fear and the Power of Science,” the very last thing we want is for political posturing and blame to impede the vaccine rollout.


To understand how fumbled the present vaccine rollout is, we will look to again to 1947, when a single case of smallpox in New York City led to a mass vaccination program of 6 million folks in lower than a month, utilizing glass syringes versus trendy methods.

It is disturbing to think about that at the same time as vaccine science itself advances so dramatically, the deployment of our new finest weapon in opposition to the burgeoning pandemic is perhaps higher completed utilizing a less complicated extra old school historic mannequin.


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