The US has observed an uptick in the average number of Americans getting their first COVID-19 vaccine dose since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. While vaccine hesitancy is down, the Biden administration’s push for booster shot data by Sept. 20 has reportedly prompted chaos within the FDA.
Since March 1, more than 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been discarded by US-based pharmacies and state governments, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data obtained by NBC News.
Four US pharmacy chains – Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Rite Aid – all reported the disposal of more than 1.1 million doses during the six-month period.
It is worth noting that the CDC does not require this reporting from states, pharmacies or other places administering COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, the data should not be viewed as comprehensive.
NBC News detailed that, in the case of Michigan, CDC data shows that only 12 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been wasted in the state since March. However, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to the outlet that at least 257,673 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been discarded during the period.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the US president, and several other US health experts have asserted that COVID-19 booster shots will likely become standard practice.
The recommendation for a third dose of the mRNA vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna comes alongside research findings that suggest one’s vaccine immunity, or protection from COVID-19, will begin to wear off several months after the second jab.
While the FDA has yet to authorize a third dose for all adults, US President Joe Biden announced last month that his administration intends to move to the next step regarding boosters following the September 20 delivery of relevant data and findings by the FDA.
Biden’s deadline has reportedly triggered turmoil with federal regulators who are responsible for identifying any issues or danger that may arise from booster shots. There also exists a moral dilemma regarding the rate of global vaccination and vaccine availability.
Amid reports of rising tensions with Biden and his administration, the FDA confirmed on Tuesday that Marion Gruber, director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, and her deputy, Philip Krause, will be leaving the federal agency before the year’s end.