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COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in the United States

Back to News

February 04, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in the United States

Jennifer Morency

The worldwide cases of the novel coronavirus have officially hit the one hundred million mark. As of today, there have been over 103 million cases of COVID-19 reported around the globe. The United States, for its part, has recorded over 26.3 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

With the nearly impossible task of being given an 18-month timeline to develop a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, experts around the world have pooled together resources and manpower that was previously unseen. Incredulously, two companies managed to develop and test a working vaccine against the coronavirus in a record time of less than a year.

Working Vaccines Against Covid-19

Two companies have now successfully developed, manufactured and started distributing a vaccine against the coronavirus. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna both have a working vaccine that falls under the RNA-based vaccine category.

Pfizer-BioNTech developed a vaccine that had a 95% effective rate in its clinical trials. This vaccine requires two shots that are 21 days apart to be fully effective against COVID-19. Side effects include pain, swelling and redness in the injection site as well as possible chills, headache and tiredness. As some people did suffer a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts urge people to check the vaccine’s ingredients before receiving the vaccine.

The trial demographics are also important to note, as 81.9% of the people within Pfizer-BioNTech’s clinical trial were White, followed by 26.2% being Latino/Hispanic, 9.8% African American, 4.4% Asian and less than 3% being of other races or ethnicities.

Moderna, on its end, developed a vaccine with a 94.1% effective rate against COVID-19. Similar to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, it also requires two shots but has a longer period between the two to be fully effective, needing 28 days apart rather than 21. The vaccine’s side effects are the same as Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, which include pain, swelling and redness in the injection site as well as possible chills, headache and tiredness. It has been reported that side effects were more common after the second dose of the vaccine.

The demographics for Moderna’s clinical trial included racial and ethnic categories of which 79.4% of people were White, 20% were Hispanic/Latino, 9.7% were African American, 4.7% were Asian and less than 3% were of other ethnicities or races. A total of 82% of the people who participated in the trials were considered to have an occupation risk of exposure, with 25.4% being healthcare workers.

As of date, both vaccines are recommended to people older than 16 years of age. However, since there is not enough information on possible fetus side-effects, pregnant women are told to consult with their health care provider before receiving the vaccine. Even so, experts believe the benefits outweigh the possible risks.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna both have a working vaccine that falls under the RNA-based vaccine category.

Coronavirus Vaccine Timeline in the United States

Following the start of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, a promise of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days was issued. Of course, the CDC’s new director, Rochelle Walensky, MD, gave an overview of the Biden administration plan saying that although they would like to stick to the ambitious vaccine timeline, it’s a long shot.

Regardless of the fact that additional spaces are trying to be targeted to act as vaccine administration locations, Walensky does not think the vaccines will be available to the general public by late February or early March, as previously stated by Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services director in the Trump administration.

The United States’ Operation Warp Speed delivered two working vaccines, but its rollout plan overpromised and underdelivered, as put by Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner. Back in December 2020, the U.S. estimated that they could deliver over 20 million doses by the end of the year. Fast forward to the beginning of January 2021 and only nine million Americans had been given at least one dose of either vaccine so far. Many experts attribute this to unrealistic goals that did not account for several constraints, including inadequate planning and resources and lack of funding for vaccine administration, among others.

It is still unclear as of today what the U.S.’ clear and official vaccine rollout will be. However, the CDC’s website includes a COVID Data Tracker, providing insight on vaccine doses distributed and administered in numbers as well as through an interactive map. Thankfully, over 5.9 million Americans have now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and the numbers are climbing steadily.

Over 5.9 million Americans have now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and the numbers are climbing steadily.

What Are the Next Steps?

What does this mean for the hundreds of millions of Americans still left unvaccinated? With Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s dose promise, it is said that any and all Americans who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to do so before the end of the year 2021. Furthermore, other companies who are currently in Phase III clinical trials will probably be added to the mix, increasing the number of available vaccines for Americans and people around the world.

The latest in vaccine development is the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Under the non-replicating viral vector vaccine category, the University of Oxford’s vaccine has been authorized for use, passing Phase III clinical trials. It is currently being administered in Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom.

Although more and more vaccine candidates are being approved and will potentially be distributed within the year, knowledge on current vaccines being administered is not precise yet. Nobody knows whether they will prevent infection and protect people from getting or transmitting the coronavirus. Public health measures should continue to be maintained regardless, ensuring the best possible outcomes for the population as a whole.