Suresh Acharya, Professor of Practice in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, addresses the excess of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the U.S., and what to do about it.
It’s projected that by early fall of this year, the U.S. will have a surplus of the COVID-19 vaccine of some 500 million doses. “Given how demand trends have tapered, and with manufacturing continuing, we’re going to be sitting on a lot of [excess] vaccines very soon,” Acharya says.
One reason for the glut of supply is the Biden Administration “playing it safe” by ordering more doses than would be needed. “That was the right thing to do,” says Acharya, adding that efforts to get more Americans vaccinated should continue. At the same time, the government needs to come up with a strategy for dealing with the excess. Many believe the U.S. needs to proceed quickly with a plan to start giving away the vaccine to other countries.
President Biden had set a goal of having 70% of the American population receive at least one dose of the vaccine by the 4th of July weekend. The U.S. is currently at around 57% of adults, but that’s far greater than many other countries, where the vaccination rate is 6% to 7%, and in some places ever lower. Three quarters of the vaccine went to 10 countries, and 30 countries received no vaccinations whatsoever. “The gap is very stark,” says Acharya.
Efforts on all fronts — governmental, business, logistics and political — need to be undertaken to get the vaccine to the rest of the world. But exporting the United States’ excess supply isn’t enough, Acharya says. The vaccine needs to be produced in other parts of the world as well, closer to where it will be consumed.
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