Saturday, 23 January, 2021


Indonesia green lights China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

Indonesian President Joko Widodo receives a shot of the coronavirus disease vaccine at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday Indonesia green lights China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine
Bennie Garza | 13 January, 2021, 10:56

Azar on Tuesday also announced that Operation Warp Speed will no longer hold back half of vaccine supplies, a move it took to ensure that when people need to get their booster dose, there was enough available to give them a second, matching vaccine in the timeframe required - 21 days for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and 28 days for the one developed by Moderna.

Many U.S. states had strict rules in place giving shots to healthcare workers and nursing home residents first, telling so-called "non-essential workers" they might have to wait months for their turn.

On Monday, Mr Biden received his second Covid-19 shot and said getting vaccines into people's arms would be a "number one priority" for his incoming administration.

Finally, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced on Tuesday that he is assisting the states in setting up mass vaccination sites.

The World Health Organization recommends that the primary efficacy should be at least 50% for COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccinations have yet to make a dent in the health crisis, as the pandemic claimed on average about 3,200 lives nationwide each day over the last week.

The new prioritization scheme pushes everyone 65 and older, as well as people 16 and older with one high-risk medical condition, to the front of the vaccine line, where they join health workers and nursing home residents and staff.

Health workers and other at-risk groups will get priority under an ambitious plan to inoculate almost 182 million people over the next 15 months. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine alone was supposed to have 25 million doses ready for across the country by the end of December. "Some states' heavy-handed, micromanagement of this process has stood in the way of vaccines reaching a broader swath of the vulnerable population more quickly", Azar said.

In addition, the government is urging states to give people their second shots now - both vaccines require two shots - instead of holding back doses for the second shot, in order to give the initial inoculation to as many people as possible.

"If you are not using vaccines that you have the right to, then we should be rebalancing to states that are using that vaccine", Azar said at news conference.

While the administration's change in strategy closely mirrors a recent proposal put forward by President-elect Joe Biden, Azar framed the announcement as part of a pre-planned transition, triggered by having met certain benchmarks outlined in the vaccine playbook released in September 2020. Just over 7,000 have gotten their second dose.

Trump's administration is not taking the lead on any of these policies.

Up to this point the federal government has merely asked states to follow guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via a panel that provides them with advice known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Azar also criticized what he called "the hospitalization of vaccine distribution", saying "we have too much vaccine sitting in freezers in hospitals". "We're going to need to reevaluate how we announce things in light of what we heard today".

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