According to the COVID Tracking Project, daily cases have averaged over 178,000 and daily deaths 2,280 over the past week despite disruptions in holiday data. More than 125,000 people are hospitalized with the disease.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said on Friday that the federal government needs to step up efforts to plan and administer immunization. The effort to date “is woefully overdue,” he said, calling on the Trump administration to add vaccination sites to schools across the country. So far, the federal government has relied on retail pharmacies and hospitals to administer the bulk of Covid-19 injections.
“That comprehensive immunization plans weren’t federally developed and sent to states as models is as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable,” Romney said.
As of December 30, states had received 12.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. But only 2.8 million people received the first in a series of two injections of either vaccine, according to CDC data.
While the data likely lags behind the actual number of vaccinations, federal officials have acknowledged that the country did not meet the Trump administration’s year-end target of receiving 20 million shots in arms.
Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer’s board of directors, has repeatedly called on the government to quickly deploy all available doses of Covid-19 vaccines instead of withholding half to ensure that second doses are available for those who have received an initial dose.
Earlier this week, a new variant of Covid-19 first detected in the UK that appears to be more transmissible – but not more deadly – was discovered in California, Colorado and Florida.
“I think we need a sense of urgency on this,” Gottlieb told CNBC Closing Bell Thursday. “And the new variant, I think, adds to that risk. Because if we don’t get this epidemic wave under control faster – and the vaccine is a tool to do it – it creates more opportunities for this new variant to start spreading more widely.