Thursday, February 18, 2021

It's the Vaccinations Stupid!

I'm all in on the big covid stimulus bill. The sooner the better; get it through with reconciliation and don't worry about the Rs.
But....I am getting a bit worried about the level of urgency the administration seems to be attaching to the fundamental task of getting shots in arms. The faster this goes, the less people die, the quicker some semblance of normality returns and the more rapid the economic recovery. In short, everything the Biden administration wants to accomplish depends on the vaccination piece.
Now for sure, there are have been supply issues, though this is now being addressed. But the logistics! Almost everybody seems to be confused about what's really available and how to actually get their shots. Of course, our federal system makes it hard to nationally coordinate something like massive vaccine administration. But it seems to me they need to try quite a bit harder and convince people heaven and earth are being moved to get them their shots. Right now, I don't think that's happening. As David Leonhardt puts it:
"Very soon, the major issue won’t be supply. It will be logistics: Can the Biden administration and state and local governments administer the shots at close to the same rate that they receive them?
“I’m not hearing a plan,” Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine, told me. “In the public statements, I don’t hear that sense of urgency.”
The experts I interviewed said they understood why Biden had set only modest public goals so far. Manufacturing vaccines is complex, and falling short of a high-profile goal would sow doubt during a public-health emergency, as Barry Bloom, a Harvard immunologist, told me. If he were president, Bloom added, he would also want to exceed whatever goal was appearing in the media.
But setting aside public relations, experts say that the appropriate goal is to administer vaccine shots at roughly the same rate that drug makers deliver them — with a short delay, of a week or two, for logistics. Otherwise, millions of doses will languish in storage while Americans are dying and the country remains partially shut down.
“We should be doing more,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said. “I am kind of surprised by how constrained we’ve been.” Many vaccine clinics operate only during business hours, she noted. And the government has not done much to expand the pool of vaccine workers — say, by training E.M.T. workers.....
Part of me wonders whether the White House knows that three million shots per day is the right goal and simply doesn’t want to say so.
When Biden and his advisers talk about the fight against Covid-19, they sometimes compare it to wartime mobilization. And the U.S. has accomplished amazing logistical feats during wartime. A single Michigan auto plant figured out how to manufacture a new B-24 bomber plane every hour during World War II, and a network of West Coast factories built one warship per day — for four years."
I'm not currently seeing the analogue to wartime mobilization on the logistics side. But that's what we need.

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