Unvaccinated Americans are leaving tens of millions of unused COVID-19 vaccine doses on the shelves, despite offers of lottery rewards, amusement park tickets, and even cash. As of earlier this week, federal officials notified state governors that up to 53 million doses of vaccine were still waiting to be ordered by the states, a remarkable number that could protect up to 25 million individuals depending on the type of vaccination.
In areas with the lowest vaccination rates, such as Idaho, Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, and Alabama, an unknown quantity of vaccine doses are waiting to be injected into arms in vaccination centers and pharmacies.
The possible glut comes while vaccines to protect health care workers and the elderly are still in short supply in the world's poorest countries.
Arkansas is investing $2 million in vaccine incentives to encourage individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Before the new incentives, about 900,000 people had been fully inoculated against COVID-19. Some of those who spoke up stated it didn't seem appropriate to reward "bad behavior," per KATV. Beginning May 25, those who get vaccinated will have the option of earning a $20 scratch-off ticket from the Arkansas Lottery or a $20 gift certificate from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.
Biden administration claims numbers of wasted COVID-19 vaccines not high
Low-income countries receive only 0.3 percent of the vaccination supply. In a phone call with fellow governors on Tuesday, Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson said, "We are currently in possession of a quantity that might be shared, that we are concerned about expiring." ABC News obtained audio of the private conversation.
The Biden administration claimed that the amount of wasted doses in the United States is exceptionally low and that the vast bulk of the supply is not about to run out.
The thought of a rising vaccine surplus, on the other hand, is a new problem for the White House, which assumed power when supplies were scarce, and the federal government still had not bought enough vaccines for every American. With nearly 60 percent of eligible Americans receiving one shot, the rate of injections has dropped to 1.7 million per day in the last six weeks.
Meanwhile, global outbreaks have raised fears about new viral mutations that could undermine COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness and put inoculated Americans in danger.
Stephen Morrison, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Health Policy Center, estimated that up to 30 percent of Americans would refuse the vaccine outright. The Biden team's top priority will be to ensure that any recovery in the United States is "durable" before diverting supply.
The Biden administration has pledged $4 billion to Covax, a global vaccine effort. And he has promised to donate 20 million doses of vaccines currently available in the United States by the end of June, a fraction of the 800 million doses the US claims to be purchasing from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. The government also intends to export 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is widely used in other countries but has yet to be approved by US regulators.
Africa needs at least 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses
The World Health Organization(WHO) said Thursday that Africa needs at least 20 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine in the next six weeks to get the second wave of vaccinations to people who have previously obtained the first. According to the WHO, one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is 70 percent effective for at least 12 weeks. Still, the second dosage provides 81 percent protection against COVID-19 over a more extended period. Antibodies were found in the body for up to six months following a single treatment, CNBC reported.
The WHO stated that another 200 million doses of any authorized COVID-19 vaccine are urgently needed for the continent to vaccinate at least 10 percent of its population by September. As of Thursday, 28 million COVID-19 doses from several drug companies had been distributed in Africa, a continent with a population of over 1.4 billion people, representing less than two doses per 100 people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 165 million people in the United States had gotten at least one vaccine dose, accounting for nearly half of the country's population.