It's no secret that the rollouts of the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) with its partner BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) haven't gone as well as hoped. Many Americans who want a vaccine haven't been able to get one yet. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Jan. 13, 2021, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com writer Keith Speights discuss a major strategy change that should make more vaccines available more quickly.
Corinne Cardina: Another change in vaccination strategy has been around the doses that were being held back. Joe Biden, President-elect had said, when I come into office, we're going to stop holding back doses for that second dose that are in the freezer, which has been President Trump's taskforce strategy. Now, President Trump's strategy has come out and matched what Joe Biden said he would do.
Can you talk a little bit about why they were holding back doses? Is it OK to give out all the doses we have? Will there be second doses ready when people need them, if they do this?
Keith Speights: The original strategy, in some respects, makes sense. What the federal government was doing was they were saying, OK, everyone, needs to receive two doses. To ensure that they get their second dose, we're only going to ship out enough for people to get their first dose and hold back that second dose until closer to the time when individuals will need that second dose.
Like I said, from one respect that makes sense. It ensures that everyone gets, becomes fully dosed, fully vaccinated rather. The challenge there though is that that limits how many people can get their first dose if you're holding back the doses from being shipped.
What the incoming Biden administration said was, we'd like to go ahead and ship those doses out, get more people receiving that first dose. Like you said, Corinne, the Trump administration ultimately agreed that that's probably the best thing to do.
Like you mentioned, the downside is what happens if there are wrinkles and those second doses aren't available. I think that's just a risk that's worth taking though. At least thus far we're not seeing any significant issues with manufacturing the doses. There have been a few blips along the road, for sure. But there's nothing that would raise serious concerns at this point that those second doses wouldn't be available. But that is the trade-off with this change in strategy.
Corinne Cardina: Right. Some people involved said that if there were a problem with getting those second doses they could invoke the Defense Production Act, to get more doses made at a quicker speed.