Over the past forty-eight hours, our news outlet has published a pair of articles raising significant concerns about the status of Covid-19 vaccinations in South Carolina … or rather the lack thereof.
In the first article, published two days ago, we revealed that the Palmetto State ranked last in the nation in the number of vaccines it has received from the federal government (per 100,000 citizens) – and ranked No. 48 nationally in terms of the number of vaccines it has administered (again, per 100,000 citizens).
In the second article, published yesterday, our news director Mandy Matney reported on supply shortages that – according to the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) – will reduce the initial allocation of doses earmarked for the state by 75 percent. Shortly after that report was filed, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) confirmed to a television station in the capital city of Columbia “that there aren’t enough vaccines to go around.”
As a result, previously scheduled appointments to receive the vaccine have been canceled or delayed.
“(SCDHEC) says that the state and state hospitals are receiving the same number of doses of the vaccine as previous weeks,” WLTX TV 19 (CBS – Columbia, S.C.) reported, even though “some hospitals and vaccine providers have requested four to five times more doses than before because of high demand.”
“According to (SCDHEC), the state can’t fulfill the providers’ request for increased vaccine allocations because there is not enough vaccine available from the federal government,” the WLTX report continued, adding the state was “not expecting the allocation from the federal government to increase anytime soon.”
Not surprisingly, these developments have prompted outcry from citizens already frustrated with McMaster’s consistently uneven response to the virus – which originated in Wuhan, China in the fall of 2019 and proceeded to plunge America into an economically debilitating lockdown in mid-March of last year.
In response to these reports, our news outlet has received several calls from legislative and executive officials at the state level – and a federal official familiar with the vaccine supply chain.
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While all of these officials spoke on condition of anonymity, they shared the same message – that vaccine shortages are expected to be temporary and that the state should exhaust its available doses as expeditiously as possible.
“We need to be jabbing arms,” one state lawmaker briefed on the situation told us bluntly. “Because help is on the way.”
According to federal officials, production of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – currently estimated at 8 million doses per week – should ramp up to 18 million doses per week by the beginning of February. That is consistent with previously published estimates of 200 million vaccine doses produced per company by the end of July – enough to vaccinate an estimated 70 percent of the nation’s adult population.
Meanwhile, a one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is supposed to enter the marketplace during the second half of February, although it is unclear exactly how many doses of it will be available. Originally, 20 million doses of this one-shot vaccine were supposed to be available by the end of February – although it appears the company will not hit that target.
Also, a promising Novavax vaccine began its third phase of clinical trials two-and-a-half weeks ago – and could be ready for distribution later in the first quarter of 2021.
All told, Trump’s Operation Warp Speed has purchased an estimated 400 million approved vaccine doses and agreed to purchase another 600 million vaccine doses from vaccine candidates awaiting approval.
Bottom line? Vaccines are coming …
“We should be swimming in vaccine by the end of March,” one source told us.
Will that be enough to assuage the anger and frustration of Palmetto State residents? We shall see. Also, will the vaccines arrive in time to blunt the escalating death toll associated with the virus?
According to the latest statistics from SCDHEC, a total of 6,108 South Carolinians have succumbed to Covid-19 and its attendant co-morbidities. Of those who have died, 38 percent were 81 years of age or older, 68.7 percent were 71 years of age or older and 87.5 percent were 61 years of age or older.
Conversely, only 4.2 percent of those who died “with Covid-19” were under the age of fifty.
According to the latest projections from the vacillating Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle, Washington, a total of 9,492 South Carolinians are projected to die of the virus and its comorbidities by May 1, 2021 – including those who have already lost their lives.
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