Burgeoning surplus: US states scale back Covid-19 vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

By: |
May 08, 2021 9:38 PM

In another sign of the burgeoning national surplus, Joe Biden announced last week that his administration would share the nation's entire stock of AstraZeneca doses with the world once it clears safety reviews.

Burgeoning surplus: US states scale back Covid-19 vaccine orders as interest in shots wanesKentucky governor Andy Beshear looks on as the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine arrives at The University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. (Reuters/File image)

States asked the federal government this week to withhold staggering amounts of COVID-19 vaccine amid plummeting demand for the shots, contributing to a growing U.S. stockpile of doses.

From South Carolina to Washington, states are requesting the Biden administration send them only a fraction of what’s been allocated to them. The turned-down vaccines amount to hundreds of thousands of doses this week alone, providing a stark illustration of the problem of vaccine hesitancy in the U.S.

More than 150 million Americans — about 57per cent of the adult population — have received at least one dose of vaccine, but government leaders from the Biden administration down to the city and county level are doing everything they can to persuade the rest of the country to get inoculated.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Friday that the federal government has dedicated USD250 million for community organizations to promote vaccinations, make appointments and provide transportation.

He cited examples such as holding conversations with small groups of people in minority communities in St. Louis and asking Rhode Island churches to contact community members and offer them rides to vaccination sites. He also noted that a global Hindu American organization has turned temples into vaccination centers, making it easier for elderly members to get shots in a familiar setting. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has added a vaccination site in which people can get their shots in a Formula 1 garage near the race tunnels.

The Biden administration announced this week that if states don’t order all the vaccine they’ve been allotted, the administration will shift the surplus to meet demand in other states.

In another sign of the burgeoning national surplus, Biden announced last week that his administration would share the nation’s entire stock of AstraZeneca doses with the world once it clears safety reviews.

The huge supply and dwindling demand has highlighted the vast inequalities during the pandemic, with countries like India buckling under a disastrous surge of the virus and other nations having no doses at all. At the same time, wealthy countries like the U.S. are awash in vaccine, and seeing cases and deaths plunge as a result.

The federal government allocates vaccines to each state based on their population size, and then it’s up to the states to decide how many doses they want to order every week. Early on, states routinely asked for the full allocation — and were clamoring for more shots — but now they are scaling back requests.

Wisconsin officials have asked for just 8per cent of the 162,680 doses the federal government had set aside for the state next week. Julie Willems Van Dijk, the state health department’s deputy secretary, acknowledged earlier that demand is softening and vaccinators are drawing down existing inventories before ordering more doses.

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