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Severe winter storms in Texas and the Midwest have delayed delivery of at least 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, White House officials said Friday in a briefing.
White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response Andy Slavitt said the 3 days of delayed shipping created the backlog of doses. Delivery hubs at UPS, FedEx, and McKesson have reported staffing shortages, and road closures have added to the problem.
“As weather conditions improve, we’re already working to improve this backlog,” he said, adding that 1.4 million doses are on their way today.
More than 2,000 vaccine distribution sites are in locations affected by the outages, Slavitt said. UPS and FedEx will work on Saturday deliveries this week.
He reported the opening of four new vaccination centers in Florida, which will be able to vaccinate 12,000 people daily, and one new site in Pennsylvania that will give 6,000 doses daily.
The new centers in Florida will be in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa, and Pennsylvania’s site will be at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. They will all be up and running within the next 2 weeks, Slavitt said.
Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House COVID-19 Response Team’s chief medical adviser, also reported that Pfizer will study vaccine effects on children as young as 5 or 6 years old starting in April, with Moderna studying children as young as 6 months old starting in March. Though both companies will likely have data on high school-aged children by the fall, the effects on younger children won’t be reported until the first quarter of 2022.
Finally, Fauci cast doubt on a new study that shows a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can be highly effective. The study has left some people questioning the need for a second dose.
“Even though you can get a fair degree of ‘protection’ after a single dose, it’s clearly not durable,” he said.
The study, published by Israeli researchers in the Lancet medical journal, found the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination to be 85% effective against infection 2 and 4 weeks after it was given.
But according to Fauci, the effects of the first dose may not last without a boost from the second one.
White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, Feb. 19, 2021