As the coronavirus pandemic rages and the U.S. death toll now above a once-unfathomable mark of 400,000, health experts and government officials fret over the availability of vaccines and how they are being distributed.
Some officials say the available doses of vaccines are fewer than what the federal government reports and that they can’t keep up with demand, especially as new variants of the virus threaten to spread it even faster, CNN reported.
“I worry desperately in the next six to 12 weeks we’re going to see a situation with this pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen yet to date,” said Michael Osterholm, a COVID-19 counselor to President Biden and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, CNN reported. “This will happen, we are going to see a major increase in cases, the challenge is how many.”
Osterholm said though the Biden administration will work hard to increase distribution, “we can’t make the vaccine go much faster than it is right now.”
“The difference is going to be, ‘Are we going to react now or later?” Osterholm said, CNN reported. “Do we put the brakes on after the car’s wrapped around the tree, or we try to put the brakes on before we leave the intersection?”
As of Wednesday, roughly 31.1 million vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide, but only 15.7 million have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. has approximately 24.3 million coronavirus cases and 402,977 related deaths, both tops globally, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.