Archive for March 3rd, 2021

VAX: What exactly did Biden promise?

March 3, 2021

Is “enough vaccine supply for every adult by the end of May”
a lay-up or a long-shot?


I commend Biden for putting a quantitative stake in the ground.

That said, let’s parse his announcement to decode what it really means…


First, how many people are we talking about?

There are 250 million adults 18 & over in the U.S.


So, how much vaccine is required?

As of today, 26 million have been fully vaccinated (i.e. received 2 shots) … 52 million have received only the 1st of 2 shots.


An obvious question: Is Biden talking about fully vaccinated or just “in the system” …. having received at least received one shot? More on that later.

As of today, there is over 24 million doses in the government stockpile.


Presumably, that inventory is intended for the 2nd shots to be given to folks (like me) who have already received their first shots.

So, we can assume that we just need to consider new vaccination candidates.

That means that we need enough new supply to vaccinate just over 200 million people (250 million adults 18 & over less the 52 million already vaccinated and presumed scheduled for their 2nd shots).

The good news: J&J says that it will deliver 20 million 1-shot doses by the end of March and 100 million by summer.

That works out to about 75 million J&J doses by the end of May. (20 million in March plus 2/3s of the 80 million ‘by summer’ balance).

Since J&J is a 1-dose vaccine, that leaves 125 million adults to be vaccinated by the end of May.

So, we need about 250 million doses from Pfizer & Moderna to hit the goal (125 million adults times 2 doses).


Are 250 million mRNA doses a long-shot or a lay-up?

There were 52.5 million doses delivered to (and from) the Feds in February.

Quant note: Cumulatively, there were 49.9 million doses delivered as of Feb.1 and 102.4 million delivered as of March 1 … the difference (52.5 million) was delivered in February,  Source  

So, at the February rate, we can expect at least another 150 million doses in the 3-month period March-April-May.

That leaves us about 100 million mRNA  doses short of having enough to have all adults 18 & over fully vaccinated by the end of May.

Said differently, it leaves 50 million adults partially vaccinated (i.e. having on 1 of their 2 shots).

Finishing them off will require another month’s supply (at the current delivery rate.

That pushes us out to June unless there’s a boost in vaccine manufacturing output.

Since the J&J-Merck manufacturing partnership requires a couple of months until it comes on line, it’s not clear where & how the additional supply will materialize.

So, if the goal is “fully vaccinated” , then May is aggressive … June is realistic … and, the difference is, in my opinion, rounding error.

Of course, the goal can be fudged to “at least one dose” … which may be doable by the end of May.

So, there should be enough supply to hit the available supply goal, plus or minus a couple of weeks.


The big “but…”

Biden’s commitment is “available supply” … which is less daunting than getting all adults 18 & over “vaccinated”.

And, achieving an available supply goal simply requires continuing to deliver vaccines (to & from the government) at current run rates (plus the new incremental J&J supply).

But, converting the supply into “shots in arms” is likely to run into at least 2 challenges: (1) the last mile under-served populations (i.e. rural, inner city), and (2) demand creation among the vaccine hesitants.

These challenges may be more of an impediment than vaccine supply.

We’ll cover them in future posts…

WSJ: Operation Warp Speed’s Triumph

March 3, 2021

In today’s editorial, the WSJ says that Trump’s vaccine bet was government’s best pandemic decision.

A bold move:

American governments, federal and state, have made many mistakes in the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the great success — the saving grace — was making a financial bet in collaboration with private American industry on the development of vaccines.


A fast track to normalcy

That effort is now letting the country see the possibility of a return to relatively normal life as early as the spring.

President Biden announced that the U.S. should have enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May.

[That’s months, or years, before Dr. Fauci and other experts said to expect the first doses of a Covid vaccine to be delivered.]


False claims try to diminish the achievement:

Critics scoffed when President Trump set a target of having a vaccine approved by the end of 2020.

Kamala Harris suggested she would not take a shot recommended by the Trump Administration.

The Biden-Harris Administration has now changed to full-throated encouragement — though not before continuing to trash the Trump efforts.

President Biden and White House aides have repeatedly stated that they inherited little vaccine supply and no plan for distribution.

Both claims are false.

The claim that the administration inherited no vaccine program at all, initially propagated through the ministrations of a kindly reporter, is so at odds with the evidence that even the most friendly newspapers were obliged to call it out.

The supply was ramping up fast, and while there were distribution glitches at first, the real problem has been the last mile of distribution controlled by states [at their demand].


Politically-inflicted complexity:

Governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo tried to satisfy political constituencies that wanted early access to vaccines, adding complexity and bureaucracy that confused the public.

Mr. Biden is making the same mistake, asking states to give priority to educators (read: teachers unions), school staffers and child-care workers.

That is arbitrary and unfair.

A 30-year-old teacher who may still work remotely until September is at far less risk than a 50-year-old FedEx driver who interacts with customers all day.

The fairest, least political distribution standard is age.


The big bet:

The Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed also contracted most of the vaccine supply for production before approval by the FDA: 200 million doses each of Pfizer and Moderna, and 100 million of J&J.

No one knew which technology would be approved first, if at all, so the Trump administration wisely bet on several [with firm advance orders and contract options to order more once the vaccines were approved and in distribution].

This was a grand strategy and the best money the feds spent in the pandemic.

Mr. Biden ought to give the vaccine credit where it is due — to U.S. drug companies and Operation Warp Speed.


I couldn’t have said it better myself…

March 3: COVID VAX Stats

March 3, 2021





March 3: COVID Tracking Stats

March 3, 2021


Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.