Vaccine Distribution

The F.D.A. approved the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer collaborated with the German firm BioNTech to create the vaccine. However, the United States reserved only 100 million doses of the vaccine, enough to cover 50 million people, or fewer than one in six Americans. Trump refused to order additional vaccine when offered the opportunity months ago, leaving the United States to wait behind other countries that made deals.

Once Pfizer delivers its first 100 million vaccine doses to the U.S., the country may not get another batch until June. The United States has declined to participate in a global initiative, called Covax, that is meant to make a vaccine available globally. Wealthy countries in Europe have claimed the bulk of the global supply of vaccines. Many worry that undeveloped countries will not get help.

We are averaging over 200,000 confirmed new infections per day in December. At the current level of infection in the U.S., even with an effective vaccine, 160,000 will die in the first six months of 2021. However, safety measures that reduce the virus’s spread — like mask-wearingsocial distancing and rapid-result testing — can save more than 100,000 lives in the coming months.

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra would be the nation’s first Latino HHS secretary.