Shifting sands of vaccine allocation and testing. Increased production and redistributions mean the vaccine may be coming to a pharmacy near you
The past few weeks have seen seismic changes in the approach to ending the covid-19 pandemic in the United States. President Biden announced a federal vaccination plan and an expansion of eligible individuals, as well as a proposed stimulus package to support a more robust response. Meanwhile, there was the unfortunate discovery that the federal reserve of vaccine doses had been depleted for weeks.
To bolster the new approach, one million doses of the currently-authorized vaccines will be distributed directly to pharmacies around the country next week, and state allocations will be increased by five hundred thousand doses per week until the goal of 10.5 million inoculations has been reached. Additionally, states have begun redistributing unused vaccines in a federal partnership between Walgreens, CVS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The focus will be to vaccinate long-term care facility residents and staff. The exact number of doses needed to achieve this is unknown, as the choices and logistics around the change in the rollout will fall to officials in each state.
In the world of testing, the Biden administration also announced the expanded production of an over-the-counter rapid home test that automatically reports results back to a central system, which should improve the accuracy of tracing.
While this is a step forward, testing options for providers have moved backwards. Insurance reimbursement across the country for in-office testing is often less than the price of the supplies, which has led many facilities to resort to using "send-out" tests (i.e. using external laboratories such as Quest Diagnostics, and others). Ultimately, this results in a delay in results for days, which severely limits the public health benefits of testing in the first place. Various.