The U.S. is now averaging 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered daily, the White House said Wednesday, up from an average of 900,000 shots per day one month ago. The latest seven-day daily average data reflects an increase of 200,000 doses from the week prior.
The update comes as winter weather is threatening vaccine delivery and administration in several states throughout the U.S., including in Texas where over 2 million were left without power.
Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said that the administration was aware that ongoing storms were having an impact on distribution and delivery, and that they were encouraging governors in affected states to extend hours at vaccination sites once it was safe to reopen.
“As we’ve lost some time in some states, we hope that our partners will do all they can to make up that lost ground consistent with distributing the vaccine as efficiently and equitably as possible,” he said.
The Biden administration had set a goal to achieve 100 million vaccinations within the president’s first 100 days in office, with current data reflecting a pace that would surpass that goal.
However, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also noted that officials don’t believe a recorded decrease in new cases and current hospitalizations is a reflection of the increase in vaccinations.
“We are not at the level where we believe the level of vaccination is driving the decrease in cases right now,” she said, adding that the country is coming down from a recent surge related to holiday gatherings and travel.
Walensky said that the public should not rely on increasing vaccine data as a means to abandon other public health measures, particularly as the cases of variants threaten to “jeopardize” progress the country has made. She noted that this week, the U.S. had detected it’s first case of the UK B.1.1.7 variant with the E484K substitution, which has previously been identified in the South African and Brazilian mutations. The E484K mutation has been a cause for concern regarding the impact on vaccine efficacy.
Walensky did not reveal where the case had been detected in the U.S., but did say that the B.1.1.7 variant has been reported in 42 states.