Two senators are urging the White House to “explore” deploying second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as first doses to provide protection to more Americans.
“We encourage you to explore deploying existing second doses as first doses and rely on growing real-time inventory to cover future follow-on booster shots,” Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) wrote in a letter to Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, obtained by The Washington Post.
They continued, “We are not advocating for solely a single-dose regimen. Rather, we believe deploying existing second doses to cover more first doses—coupled with using real-time inventory in the coming weeks to serve as boost doses—would be the most societally beneficial choice and mitigate severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”
The senators pointed out data suggesting a single dose of the vaccine “offers effective protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and mortality.”
They mentioned a study published last week in the New England Journal of
Medicine found Pfizer’s vaccine to be 74% effective against hospitalizations and 72% effective against COVID-19 deaths 14-20 days after one dose.
Van Hollen and Heinrich suggested, “Using existing doses to protect a larger proportion of the population would guard against the highly transmissible UK variant, B.1.1.7, which is projected to become the dominant variant in the U.S. by the end of March.”
They argued expanding first-dose vaccine coverage would help to quickly “reduce the susceptible population, protect high-risk individuals, and alleviate strain on our health care system” if there is a surge in a variant of the virus.
“We’re going to launch a massive campaign educating people about vaccines, that they are safe and effective,” Biden said. “We’re going to bring together leaders of all segments of our society to educate and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated.”
The president celebrated 50 million vaccine shots on Thursday, as IJR reported.
“I’m here to report we’re halfway there, 50 million shots in just 37 days since I’ve become president, that’s weeks ahead of schedule… we’re moving in the right direction though despite the mess we inherited from the previous administration,” Biden said.