Due to the coronavirus vaccine shortage, New York City has had to cancel 23,000 inoculation appointments.
According to the New York Daily News, Mayor de Blasio called on the federal government to compel manufacturers to step up production.
Both De Blasio and Governor Cuomo have criticized the government’s slow distribution of the vaccine over the past few weeks. The mayor has repeatedly predicted NYC would run out of the needed dosages before the week’s end.
“We need the supply expanded in a huge way,” de Blasio stated at a Wednesday press briefing.
Hours before the inauguration of Joe Biden, the city announced it had canceled thousands of appointments for residents of the city.
Now that Biden is in office, de Blasio has requested the new administration and state government allow the city to use the repurpose doses—vaccine doses that are intended to be the second shot—to be used as first doses.
Biden is expected to use the Korean war-era Defense Production Act, which will compel vaccine manufacturers to speed up production, the outlet reported.
De Blasio says nearly 65,000-second doses are being held in reserve.
“If we had those second doses freed up, we could reach those 23,000 New Yorkers this week,” he said. “We’ve got about 65,000 doses that we could put into play right away if we had that freedom.”
According to Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior adviser for public health says the doses set in place for the second dose of the vaccine won’t pose problems for the vaccines’ effectiveness if it used as a first shot.
Varma added that although it is not ideal to get the second dose over a prolonged time period, the delay won’t reduce the protection afforded by two doses of the vaccine.
“There is benefit from even getting a single dose, and that flexibility has to be available to us at the local level to be able to make sure that we maximize the benefit for the maximum number of people,” he said. “The vaccine remains effective after you get that second dose even if it’s delayed.”
The city took another hard hit on Wednesday when Moderna vaccine shipments were delayed. The city anticipated receiving over 103,400 doses of the vaccine on Tuesday, but now the doses are expected to arrive Wednesday and Thursday.
The reason for the delay is still vague.
“Our best understanding is that this was purely a shipment issue,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said Wednesday. “Whether it was a logistical challenge of making sure there was enough packing material or dry ice for the shipment, we don’t have those details.”
Varma blamed the Trump administration for city officials’ lack of good “visibility” when it comes to producing the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines.
“Vaccine production is unfortunately much, much more complicated than producing a drug. It is an enormously complex process,” he said. “There may be limitations that we don’t know about right now. Again, our hope is with the administration change that we’re going to be learning a little bit more into what the window is on this.”