VAX: What exactly did Biden promise?

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…

One Response to “VAX: What exactly did Biden promise?”

  1. I bet Biden thought this one was a gimme… | The Homa Files Says:

    […] For details, see VAX: What exactly did Biden promise? […]

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