US Officials Reportedly State COVID-19 Vaccines Are Being Held Back For Second Distribution, Despite Shortages

A doctor holds a COVID vaccine.
Shawn Thew / Getty Images

U.S. officials have stated that millions of vaccines for the novel coronavirus are currently being held back in a planned deployment strategy, despite dozens of governors and other health officials voicing their frustration that their states had received fewer vaccines than promised.

The anonymous admission comes after Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar appeared to suggest at a Thursday press conference that lower-than-expected levels of distribution were caused by Pfizer’s “manufacturing challenges,” per The Hill. Pfizer has currently only been able to make around half of the doses that it had previously expected.

Azar also suggested that this could have been avoided had Pfizer accepted federal funding from Operation Warp Speed to help with the manufacturing process. Pfizer had declined Operation Warp Speed funding for both development and manufacture of its drug, opting instead for a contract that guaranteed a federal purchase of a working vaccine.

Pfizer quickly hit back at Azar’s allegations and announced in a statement that millions of doses were sitting in storage after the U.S. government neglected to provide information on where or when to send them.

“Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed. This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. Government to the locations specified by them. We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses,” the statement on the company’s website read.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being prepared prior to a vaccine event.
  Shawn Thew / Getty Images

However, Trump administration officials — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — gave another explanation for the millions of vaccines currently sitting. According to The Associated Press, they claimed that there was a misunderstanding regarding the supply and the distribution schedule. In addition, the numbers were projections and not fixed amounts.

Despite the tension between the government and Pfizer, the company appeared to end the letter on a much more conciliatory and optimistic note. For example, Pfizer added it was confident it would be able to deliver “50 million doses globally this year and up to 1.3 billion next year.”

“We look forward to continuing to work with the US Government to deliver our vaccine to the American people,” the letter ended.

That said, though the promise of mass immunizations is on the horizon, experts have warned that the United States should still expect thousands of deaths per day over the next few months, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.