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Ex-FDA head: vaccine rollout ‘not working,’ must ‘hit the reset’ to speed up

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 10, 2021

David Matthews New York Daily News

The U.S. blunder-filled vaccine rollout is “not working” and the U.S. should “hit the reset” on its strategy in order to distribute the vaccine faster, according to the former director of the Food and Drug Administration.

Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the U.S. needed a different strategy than the current one which has resulted in the country wildly underperforming its distribution projections.

“We really need to get this vaccine out more quickly because this is really our only tool, our only backstop against the spread of these new variants. If we can get a lot of people vaccinated quickly, we might be able to get enough protective immunity into the population that this stops spreading at the rate that it is,” Gottlieb said. “So, we need to acknowledge that it’s not working. We need to hit the reset and adopt a new strategy in trying to get out to patients.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22.1 million doses of the approved vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, have been distributed buy so far only around 6.7 million people have received their first of two doses. President-elect Joe Biden said releasing all available vaccine doses would be part of of his administration’s vaccine strategy when he is inaugurated later this month.

Gottlieb echoed Biden’s call to widen the parameters of who qualifies to receive the vaccine currently.

“Right now, there’s 40 million doses sitting on a shelf somewhere. So the feds say it’s with the states. The states say it’s with the feds. It really doesn’t matter to the patient who’s not getting access to to the injection,” he said. “You have 40 million on the shelf. We have 50 million Americans above the age of 65. So, we have supply to push it out to that population more aggressively.”

Gottlieb suggested a kitchen-sink strategy for getting the vaccine out.

“We need to try everything right now to create multiple distribution points,” he said. “A lot of senior citizens aren’t going to want to go to a, you know, a stadium to get an inoculation. They’re going to want to go to a pharmacy, a local pharmacy or a doctor’s office. So, we need to provide more opportunity for people to get a vaccination where they’re comfortable getting it. But we do need to get these out more aggressively.”

Gottlieb warned that as soon as distribution became more effective, the country would need to shift focus to acquiring the number of doses that will be needed for herd immunity.

More than 373,450 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 and more than 22,255,280 cases have been reported, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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