Experts fear COVID-19 vaccine supply chain could lead to more delays

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Memorial Hermann has vaccinated more than 30,000 people so far and the demand remains high.

"We've never had a rush or a demand where the entire population needs a health care intervention at the exact same time," said executive vice president and chief physicians executive at Memorial Hermann, Dr. James McCarthy.

Seeing the need, the Trump administration is working to get more vaccines in the community. They're asking states to no longer hold back the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. They say more doses are on the way and the second dose will be there when people need it.

Despite the reassurance, vaccine providers, like Memorial Hermann, have questions about the supply chain.

"I wish I knew exactly what the supply chain looked like. We're still pretty limited in our understanding of what's coming and what we can expect. I am hopeful that if they have done this, that means they have enough confidence in the supply chain that they can continue producing vaccines so we will not have any difficulty meeting our second dose," said McCarthy.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott also encouraged providers to give out doses and not hold any back. Memorial Hermann says it's waiting to learn more from the state.

"We want the directive out of the state that this is how we're being asked to use the vaccine and then we'll figure out how we can move forward and accommodate it," said McCarthy.

Meanwhile, Dr. Catherine Troisi with UTHealth has some reservations about not holding doses back.

What if people don't get the second dose or it's delayed?

"If you delay that a week, it probably doesn't make any difference, but what happens if you delay it two months or three months? We just don't know, and again, we should be following the science," said Troisi.

The vaccine trials all include two doses, so there's concern about how effective one dose would be.

Plus, Troisi said it's hard to guarantee that second dose if you don't hold doses back. After all, we've already seen distribution delays.

"We were told we would have X-number of doses by the end of the year. That has not panned out. The distribution of the doses has not been optimal, so you're putting a lot of faith that the manufacturers can up the amount of production," she said.

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