With only nine days to go, the United States is unlikely to meet its original goal of having 20 million people vaccinated by the end of the year, members of Operation Warp Speed said on Wednesday.
“This goal is unlikely to be achieved,” said Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, during a news conference on Wednesday. “The immunization process – gunfire – is happening more slowly than we thought.”
Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak
What Slaoui’s team can commit to is the number of doses to be distributed. “We are distributing the vaccines as soon as possible,” Army General Gustave Perna, chief of operations for Operation Warp Speed, said during the briefing.
As of Wednesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in the past two weeks.
The data represent only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines administered so far, and are likely to be delayed by several days, as hundreds of health and long-term centers continue to be reported to the agency.
More than 9.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed across the country, according to the CDC.
It is not clear why there is such a gap between the number of doses administered to the states and the actual injections administered, although the delay in the suppliers who report the data to the CDC may be a reason. In addition, although the distribution numbers include Pfizer and Moderna, the administered doses of Moderna have not yet been counted, according to the CDC.
During the briefing, Perna said, “it’s about access to the vaccine when it arrives and its execution”.
Perna anticipated that the OWS team would have about 20 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine “allocated by the end of the month”, but would not have all delivered before the first week of January.
Predictably, the launch had “some confusion,” said Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, during a live “Doc to Doc” interview with NBC senior medical correspondent News, Dr. John Torres on Wednesday.
Even so, Poland gave credit to Operation Warp Speed staff. “It’s a big logistical nightmare to try to plan,” he said.
Download the NBC News app to get the latest news about coronavirus
Vaccines are being launched as the country continues to set records for Covid-19 cases and related deaths. On Tuesday, the country recorded a record 3,350 deaths linked to coronavirus in a single day. More than 325,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States since the pandemic began, and more than 18 million people have been diagnosed.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Trump administration announced it would buy an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, ensuring that all Americans who want to be vaccinated can be in the summer.
The Department of Health and Human Services reported that Pfizer will manufacture and deliver up to 100 million doses of the vaccine, in addition to the 100 million doses already purchased by the United States government.
“It is good news that there will be more vaccines available,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, co-chairman of President-elect Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, on MSNBC on Wednesday. “We are moving towards our goal of getting 1 million vaccines a day.”
Follow NBC HEALTH on Twitter & Facebook.