Doctors say supply of COVID-19 vaccine must ramp up for some normalcy by summer

NOW: Doctors say supply of COVID-19 vaccine must ramp up for some normalcy by summer

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci says anywhere from 70 to 85-percent of people must be vaccinated in order for society to have some sense of normalcy.

Dr. Fauci hopes to get there by the end of summer, but U.S. Centers for Disease Control data show less than 2-percent of Americans have gotten their two doses. That number is even lower for the state of Wisconsin. So far 1,457 people out of every 100,000, or 1.4-percent, have received their second doses.  

When the vaccine rollout began, doctors say the slowdown was based on a number of issues like capacity and staffing, but at this point supply is the one factor that’s holding vaccinations back.

“It’s going to be very difficult if we don’t get more supply, so supply is king,” said Dr. Matt Anderson, the physician lead for UW-Health’s vaccine work.

Dr. Anderson agrees 70 to 85-percent is a good measure for getting the community back to normal.

“I think that’s a very reasonable place for us to look at and I think the less COVID-19 that you have in the community in general, and then you vaccinate on top of that, the quicker we’re going to be seeing that herd immunity,” he adds.

“I think if we do it right, if we really efficiently and effectively get people vaccinated, we can do that by the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday.

Dr. Fauci’s timeline comes with a stipulation, he says the new variants cannot keep mutating and getting out of control or it will weaken some of the vaccine’s effects.

“If you vaccinate people and double down on public health measures and keep the level of viral dynamic slow, we'll not have an easy evolution into mutation,” Dr. Fauci says.

The CDC says out of more than 33.8 million vaccines administered in the U.S. as of Wednesday, 6.4 million people have received both doses. In Wisconsin, less than 85,000 have received their two doses. Doctors say supply must ramp up quickly to meet the end of summer goal.

“We’re rearing to go,” said Dr. Anderson. “We’re just looking for that supply, and it’s simplifying that process to make sure that it gets out to those people who are ready.”

Doctors say supply growth is possible if the federal government gets vaccines quickly to states who then distribute to vaccinators. Another way is if more companies come out with COVID-19 vaccines soon.

“Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, others hopefully getting approved and producing more and then having really efficient, simplified processes for states to get those vaccines to those of us who are vaccinating,” adds Dr. Anderson.

While supply is causing a hiccup in the rollout, Dr. Anderson says the U.S. is making progress now, doing closer to one and a half million doses a day versus less than a million a day three weeks ago. He says the number of people fully vaccinated will spike exponentially as more people get their second doses in the coming weeks.

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