Doubling the number of doses sent to the Great Lakes state weekly could prevent up to 1,200 COVID-19 deaths, one University of California, Berkeley model suggests.
But when asked about altering the federal government’s vaccine allocation plan, senior White House Covid adviser Andy Slavitt said: ‘By and large, we are still allocating vaccines based upon population.’
That’s the same strategy the government has employed to distribute vaccines throughout the majority of the rollout, and the team of advisers is sticking stubbornly to it despite the growing crisis in Michigan.
Meanwhile, the federal government has lowered vaccine-supply allotments for Washington, apparently because of problems at a facility producing Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Washington state health officials said Wednesday.
Doubling the number of doses sent to the Great Lakes state weekly could prevent up to 1,200 COVID-19 deaths (green), one University of California, Berkeley model suggests. Combining a vaccine surge supply and putting reopenings on pause could prevent 2,500 deaths (orange)
Senior White House Covid adviser Andy Slavitt said: ‘By and large, we are still allocating vaccines based upon population,’ rather than adjusting allocations to account for case surges like Michigan’s
A Baltimore, Maryland facility making Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine mixed up an ingredient for it with one intended for the AstraZeneca vaccine (which was also being manufactured there at the time), ruining a batch of 15 million doses of the J&J shot.
Comments about the decreased supply Wednesday come as state health officials prepare to open vaccine eligibility on April 15 to everyone age 16 and over, The Seattle Times reported.
Taken together, the series of fumbles raise questions about how well federal U.S. officials are responding in real time to the constant changes of the pandemic.
On the whole, the U.S. is on track for half of American adults to have had at least a first dose by the weekend.
To date, the U.S. has administered nearly 171.5 million doses, covering a third of Americans with one or more doses and fully vaccinating 26.5 percent of Americans.
At the pace of about three million shots given on an average day, the vaccination campaign is rolling full steam-ahead on the national level.
Michigan continues to lead the country in COVID-19 cases, recording 9,369 on Wednesday, which is a 101% increase from two weeks ago
A recent model from Michigan Medicine predicts that as early as April 12, a recored 4,522 Michiganders could be hospitalized with COVID-19
And it is likely helping to keep surges at bay in much of the nation, as states reopen.
But the surge is not being kept at bay in Michigan.
The state continues to lead the country in COVID-19 cases, recording 9,369 on Wednesday – the highest total in the U.S. and a 101 percent increase from two weeks ago.
The Great Lake State also leads the nation in the number of inpatient hospital and ICU beds being used to treat coronavirus patients.
Currently, 11.9 percent of inpatient beds are full, which marks a more than 200 percent increase since late February.
Michigan Live reported that the state is currently treating 3,595 patients with COVID-19, a 32 percent increase from one week ago and a 71 percent increase from one month month ago.
‘You know, we’re talking to our hospitals every single day just to check in, see what the rates are, see if they’re getting concerned,’ Whitmer said on Wednesday, according to Michigan Live.
‘At this juncture…we do have hospitalizations that have gone up but they’re nothing like what we saw last spring, when we were so worried about our health system collapsing.’
However, a recent model from Michigan Medicine predicts that as early as April 12, 4,522 Michiganders could be hospitalized with COVID-19, reported Michigan Live.
That would be a record high figure, even higher than the 4,365 patients hospitalized during the peak of the April 2020 surge.
Next week, the state is slated to get more than 501,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines – inclusive of first and second doses of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines as well as a shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot.
Over the course of the rollout, Michigan has been allocated about 68,317 doses per 100,000 people, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.
That’s considerably fewer than states like Oklahoma, South Dakota and Connecticut, which are each receiving more than 70,000 doses per 100,000 people.
And more than 90,000 doses have been delivered to Alaska per 100,000 residents.
Yet Michigan is seeing 3.5 times more new COVID-19 cases per its population compared to South Dakota.
White House officials are dragging their feet about changing allocations, however, and did not signal any intention of changing these allocations any time soon.
‘Clearly we will get to a place where more targeted strategies will work, but right now I would commit to you that we’re doing both,’ said Slavitt during a Wednesday White House press briefing.
Shipping a ‘vaccine surge’ to Michigan would likely prevent thousands of Covid case, hospitalizations and deaths, according to modeling by Joshua Schwab, a researchers at UC Berkeley.
His model suggests that doubling the number of vaccine doses sent to Michigan in the coming weeks could reduce hospitalizations by about 10,000 and spare about 1,200 lives.
Combining a vaccine surge with a ‘pause’ on Michigan’s reopening could cut hospital admissions by 23,000 and deaths by 2,500 between April 3 to July 1, he estimates.
But Michigan Governor Whitmer does not appear to have any intent to roll back her state’s reopening, and the federal government isn’t promising any more vaccine doses.
It’s not clear whether Michigan’s vaccine supply has been cut since the 15 million Johnson & Johnson doses were ruined at the disastrous Emergent BioSolutions incident.
But at least one state has seen its supply be curbed.
Washington health officials had expected the state to receive at least 600,000 doses of vaccine through state and federal programs for each week in April, but now Washington state expects deliveries of at least 500,000 doses next week.
The federal government maintains the expected supply boost will come, but the timeline is not yet clear.
‘The three-week forecast is a little bit lower than we hoped for,’ said SheAnne Allen, the COVID-19 vaccine director for the Washington State Department of Health. ‘These are estimates, they do change …’
About 15 million doses were ruined after employees for a contract manufacturer to Johnson & Johnson mixed ingredients incorrectly.
The problem was discovered before any bad doses were shipped and it was widely reported in new outlets last week.
Next week, about 1.3 million people will join an estimated five million Washingtonians already eligible for vaccine.
With more people becoming eligible, State Health Secretary Dr Umair Shah said he hoped that vaccine supply would rise in May, if not later in April ‘so we can match that demand.’