Millions of coronavirus vaccine doses appear to be missing after they were shipped by the Trump administration to US states.
According to the Daily Beast and sources within the Biden administration, there could be almost 20 million doses missing since they were shipped to states by the previous administration.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 41.1 million doses have been sent to states since last month, but only 22.7 million Americans have received a dose.
The Biden transition team assumed that low vaccination rates were down to slow reporting to the CDC by states - as well as a public reluctance to receive shots, and other supply problems.
But as data seen by the new White House suggests, states say there are vaccines that cannot be traced to warehouses or other sites, as two sources within the Biden administration told the Daily Beast.
Dr. Craig Spencer, an emergency doctor at New York Presbyterian Hospital, added that there appeared to be “incredible inefficiencies” with the United States’ vaccine distribution, with some states even reporting shortages.
“What we are seeing now is incredible inefficiencies. You have cities canceling vaccination appointments while the data says they still haven’t administered a large portion of the vaccine that’s been shipped to them,” said the doctor. “That is the biggest problem.”
It comes after the White House’s Covid-19 Advisory Board, which replaced the Trump administration task force for coronavirus, realised they were working with incomplete data.
No apparent single reason has since emerged as to why the country’s vaccination rate was low, with around 16 million doses having been administered when Mr Biden assumed office last Wednesday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president, said on Monday that any delay to vaccinations was “disturbing”, when asked about the CDC’s data.
Some state officials, including in those states reporting vaccine shortages, have determined there might be additional doses in their jurisdiction—outside of their second-dose reserves— that are unaccounted for.
— Erin Banco (@ErinBanco) January 25, 2021
“The thing that would be most disturbing [is] if there’s vaccine laying around, and people are not using it when others would need it”, Dr Fauci told reporters at the White House, and added that “we need to look into” the delay.
Mr Biden, speaking on the same day, said the US would be "well on our way to herd immunity" and wider protection from the virus by the summer, under plans to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day.
He previously described the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution and delivery plan as “a dismal failure thus far.”
The discovery of potentially millions of missing doses comes after the former health secretary to Mr Trump, Alex Azar, announced plans in December to distribute more vaccine doses to states from a reserve stockpile that did not exist, as reported by the Washington Post.
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