Pfizer vaccines reach 141 of 145 locations slated for first day deliveries: HHS

Pharmacy technicians received a delivery of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, US, on Dec 14, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Pfizer Inc and partners have delivered the first Covid-19 vaccines to 141 of 145 locations targeted by the US government for the first day of a nationwide rollout on Monday (Dec 14), a Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said.

Healthcare facilities in four island territories - American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, the North Mariana Islands and Guam - are still awaiting their supplies, the spokeswoman told Reuters.

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE was authorised by US regulators for emergency use late on Friday, and the first shipments were sent out on Sunday.

The US government is aiming to distribute the first wave of 2.9 million vaccine doses to 636 locations nationwide by the end of the week.

US Army General Gustave Perna said on a Monday press call that severe storms expected in some parts of the country this week could pose challenges to vaccine shipments.

Federal officials are in talks with Pfizer to acquire additional Covid-19 vaccine doses beyond the 100 million that it has already purchased, US Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Dr Moncef Slaoui said on the call, confirming earlier comments from Pfizer's chief executive.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said on the call that the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided US$145 million (S$193 million) to states to aid with distribution.

"Literally millions of doses right now are getting out there to the American people. And by next week, we believe we could be having a second vaccine," Mr Azar said at a news conference at George Washington University Hospital as part of a vaccination kick-off event.

"By the end of February, what you saw today could be replicated a 100 million times, a 100 million shots in arms between the first and booster vaccine," Mr Azar said.

Most doses delivered in the United States will be sourced from Pfizer's US-based manufacturing facilities, including its factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Some of the initial doses were sourced from a facility in Belgium, Gen Perna said. He said he expects subsequent doses to be sourced from within the United States.

US officials are hoping Moderna Inc's Covid-19 vaccine, which is currently being reviewed by US regulators, will be available for distribution as early as the beginning of next week, Gen Perna said.

AstraZeneca Plc has enrolled 22,000 people into US clinical trials for its vaccine and could submit for emergency authorisation as soon as February, Dr Slaoui said.

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