In nations where vaccines have been authorized, criticism is mounting over shortages and delays to getting shots into people’s arms. And solutions devised to stretch supplies — from administering half doses to spreading out the time between two doses — have raised concerns from some experts.
Some governments are pointing the finger at manufacturers for bottlenecks, while vaccine developers say it’s an issue of supply. Others cite complications with distribution plans and a lack of trained staff to administer shots. But most public health experts say the slow pace is the inevitable consequence of creating a new vaccine rollout in real time.
Just weeks after the United Kingdom became the world’s first nation to begin vaccinating its citizens with a fully vetted and authorized Covid-19 shot, its government is facing questions over how many doses are available.
The English city of Birmingham reported it was running out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine last week and doctors are demanding to know where deliveries are.
“The question in the UK is, is there a supply problem, or is there a problem with the infrastructure for rollout? And we don’t actually know that. The manufacturers say there isn’t a supply problem, but the government say there is,” said Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
McKee said European governments also must be clear about whether delays are down to a shortage of vaccine or an infrastructure issue, saying that it was “simply unbelievable” that countries like France seemed to be floundering. “Many people are looking with incredulity at the failure of a number of European countries to have robust plans in place,” he added.
France has been under fire for its sluggish pace since the campaign started on December 27. Only 516 people were vaccinated in the first week, according to data from the French health authority on January 1. French Health Minister Olivier Veran told reporters Saturday he expected 100,000 to be vaccinated by the end of the weekend. In his New Year’s Eve address, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not tolerate any “unjustified slowness” in the country’s vaccination campaign, even as health officials argue the rollout is deliberately cautious to help convince the country’s sizable…