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Biden Announces Big Shift in US Vaccine Strategy

He plans to release nearly all doses immediately, instead of holding supplies back for 2nd shot
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2021 11:35 AM CST
Biden Plans Major Shift in Strategy on Vaccines
President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – Joe Biden on Friday announced a big and controversial shift in strategy on coronavirus vaccines. When he takes office, Biden will order the immediate release of almost all available doses, reports CNN. Under the current strategy, about half the doses are being held back so people already vaccinated can receive their second shots, explains the New York Times. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two-dose vaccines. The idea is that it would be better to give as many people as possible at least one shot to provide them some measure of protection. This debate has been kicking around for a while, and Dr. Anthony Fauci has been among those who have voiced reservations about it. Fauci has not commented Friday.

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Biden "believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible," says a spokesman. "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." Advocates—see this Washington Post op-ed—acknowledge that the concept isn't ideal, but they argue it makes sense given the surging number of cases and the slower-than-expected distribution of the vaccines. People would still get second shots for maximum protection, just not as quickly as originally intended. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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