Despite promise from Trump Administration, COVID-19 vaccine reserve appears to be 'exhausted'

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 5:48 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-16 19:09:22-05

President-elect Joe Biden announced that he'll use the Defense Production Act to "maximize manufacture" of the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Washington Post report first broke the news the United States COVID-19 vaccine reserve is depleted. At this time, ABC News is working to confirm this information with the federal government.

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the federal government would begin releasing their reserve doses. An about-face from the secretary, who criticized President-elect Biden's plan to release the reserve when he took office. Secretary Azar said it was now safe to release the reserve, as manufacturing had stabilized.

But as the Washington Post reports, that reserve was already depleted when Secretary Azar made that announcement on Tuesday.

"The federal government says, 'we're gonna release all the doses we have,' and then they go to the cupboard where they're keeping these doses, and the cupboard is bare. This is such malpractice, on a government level, that people need to be held accountable," said Jared Moskowitz, Florida's Director of Emergency Management.

The Washington Post report states that the federal government began releasing said reserve back in December.

"The question is now, though, how many additional people can we put into the pipeline to make sure that everybody gets their first and second doses," said Dr. Michael Teng, Associate Professor at USF Health.

Dr. Teng warned that the expansion of eligibility will likely slow down. But Florida's Director of Emergency Management assures Floridians that if you've gotten your first dose, you will get your second.

But for those still waiting for a vaccination, he said, "This is a supply issue... We cannot give them enough vaccine because the federal government is not giving us enough vaccine. In fact, the federal government cut our supply of vaccine by almost 50 percent in the last couple of weeks."

President-elect Biden held a press conference Friday afternoon and reminded Americans of his administration's plan to administer 100 million shots in his first 100 days as president.

"Some wonder if we're reaching too far for that goal. 'Is it achievable?' is a legitimate question to ask. Let me be clear. I'm convinced we can get it done," he said.

And Governor Ron DeSantis, in a pre-recorded statement he released on Friday, assured Florida's 4.5 million seniors they will get a shot if they want it, eventually.

"Federal supply remains limited, but when additional vaccine comes, we are ready to deploy those doses quickly," said Governor DeSantis.

ABC Action News has emailed the Governor's Office and the Florida Department of Health to determine when Florida can expect to receive more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government. We will release that information as soon as we get it.