In what could become another major messaging flip-flop from the CDC, after repeatedly urging all eligible Americans to make sure not to miss their second follow-up dose of the COVID vaccine, Bloomberg reports that the scientific professionals managing the US COVID response are weighing recommendations to extend the interval between the first and second dose as supplies run low.
The CDC's advisory committee has reportedly debated the idea, which will be taken up by the full committee and provide official guidance, according to a Bloomberg report. Jose Romero, chairman of the committee and Arkansas health secretary, reportedly declined to comment officially.
Such a delay would be a big shift from just a few weeks ago, when US health officials rejected a dose-stretching policy adopted by the UK which allowed up to 12 weeks between shots. Most drugmakers have agreed, saying that policies should follow the protocols used in the shots’ testing, in which the intervals were set at three or four weeks.
But apparently the situation has changed, or is changing. Despite all the fearmongering about the COVID "mutant" strains (another possibility repeatedly denied by Dr. Tony Fauci and other top health officials until it finally became a reality), Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York affirmed earlier that the state's positivity rate had fallen to its lowest level since November (though Cuomo is also now embroiled in a worsening scandal over allegedly lying about COVID deaths in NY's nursing homes.
"We know that until we have sufficient vaccine, there is the requirement to have some sort of prioritization scheme," Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s Covid-19 czar, said in an interview.
"The next question is, is it better to put a single dose in the arms of more people?"
The CDC is weighing the shift, which could slow down the vaccination process, while President Biden is doing everything in his power to hit the 100MM vaccinated mark by his 100th day in office.
While supplies have been cited in some reports, we also note demand could also become an issue as not just vaccine-skeptics, but weather-impacted travel restrictions (see Texas for example) mean there are not enough arms to jab.
And unfortunately, it seems some states have been overwhelmed by the task of trying to get enough doses for the most urgently needed patients, all of which have forced both the FDA and CDC to "moderate" their stance about delaying the second dose.
Though we do question the 'science' here? Is the science of vaccine efficacy protocols being sacrificed at the alter of inept local government logistics?
Jesse Goodman, former chief scientist at the FDA, warned that the big fear is that letting up the gas on vaccines will let new terrible COVID mutations fester and spread.
Still, the states likely won't move on the official policy without a go-ahead from the Feds.
"Our strategy for Covid constantly needs to balance what our national experts say," he said, "but also it’s our responsibility to our citizens to make sure we’re constantly trying to push the envelope."
At the end of it, the message is a little muddled: Get your second COVID shot just in case any new scary COVID mutants pop up (or continue to spread), but if you can't, don't worry about it.
At least, as far as vaccinations are concerned, the US is still ahead of Europe.