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Biden to release all available COVID-19 vaccine doses later this month

Biden to release all available COVID-19 vaccine doses later this month
President-elect Joe Biden plans to release every available dose of the COVID-19 vaccine later this month, a spokesman for the transition said on Friday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 8 (UPI) -- When he takes office later this month, President-elect Joe Biden will move to release every available dose of the coronavirus vaccine, breaking with the Trump administration's policies, a transition team spokesman said Friday.

Rather than holding back enough vaccine to provide a recommended second dose for those who receive an initial dose -- as the current administration has done -- Biden will instead release "available doses immediately," Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo told CNN and the New York Times.

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"The President-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible," he said. "He supports releasing available doses immediately, and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans' arms now."

Biden's move came after the Democratic governors of eight states demanded the Health and Human Services Department to release the COVID-19 vaccine doses it is holding in reserve.

RELATED Eight states demand HHS to release vaccine doses held in reserve

"The failure to distribute these doses to states who request them is unconscionable and unacceptable," they wrote in a letter. "We demand that the federal government begin distributing these reserved doses to states immediately."

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The issue of whether to reserve second doses for inoculated patients has been hotly debated by health experts and elected officials.

Clinical trials have shown that vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both about 95% effective -- but only after two full doses.

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Top Food and Drug Administration officials said this week that people need both doses and rejected the idea of stretching existing supplies by allowing just one dose.

The Trump administration had initially set a goal of vaccinating 20 million people in the United States by the end of December.

However, as of Friday, only 6 million people across the country had received at least one dose, according to figures from Our World in Data.

RELATED Study: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine just as effective against viral variant

To ensure that supplies were sufficient for those vaccinated to receive their second dose, which should be administered three to four weeks after the first with both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, Trump administration officials opted to hold some in reserve, former FDA director Mark McClellan told reporters earlier this week.

A study published last month by the New England Journal of Medicine found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 52% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection after one dose.

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The amount of protection offered by the Moderna vaccine after one shot, however, is still being studied.

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