The White House Chief Medical Officer for Covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, listens as U.S. President Joe Biden (outside the frame) speaks during a visit to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
Most Americans will have access to a Covid-19 vaccine either in mid to late May or early June, said White House chief medical officer Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Tuesday, a slight delay compared to previous predictions.
The infectious disease expert had previously forecast that the life-saving drugs would be available to the general public in late March or early April. Until now, vaccine distribution has been restricted to workers in major industries who are over 65 years old and who have health problems, depending on which state someone lives in.
However, Fauci said the federal government expects “significantly more” starting doses from Johnson & Johnson who have applied for emergency clearance in the US. The New Jersey-based company previously announced it would ship 100 million cans to the US in late June.
“It could be June, July and August before everyone is vaccinated,” Fauci told CNN on Tuesday. “So when you hear how long it will take for the vast majority of the population to be vaccinated, no one will agree that it will be good by the end of summer and that we will get to early fall.”
The New York Times first reported in January that unexpected delays in manufacturing would result in reduced first aid supplies of J & J’s medication if emergency clearance were granted. A company spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on how many cans J&J will provide immediately.
The Biden government has steadily increased the number of cans sent to states each week and announced plans on Tuesday to ship 13.5 million cans this week. The federal government will also double the number of doses shipped directly to retail pharmacy chains, said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.
Demand for the drugs still far outweighs the nation’s supply, Fauci told CNN, calling it a “critical problem”. For weeks, state health authorities have been calling for a steady supply of vaccines. Some large mass vaccination sites in the US have had to delay opening or close them temporarily due to a lack of doses.
“I’m a little disappointed that the number of doses we’re getting early from J&J is relatively small, but as we get further into spring there will be more and more,” said Fauci.
Meanwhile, the UK vaccine taskforce leader told Sky News on Tuesday that he expects any adult there to be able to receive both vaccine doses by August or September.
“We are confident that the Vaccine Taskforce will now enable us to vaccinate as many people as the UK wants to vaccinate,” Clive Dix told Sky News.