With the CDC saying 41 million doses of vaccine have been distributed, but only 23 million people have been vaccinated, there clearly is a distribution issue.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As those who provide our healthcare scramble to vaccinate everyone against the Coronavirus, many are wondering if President Biden is being overly optimistic.

With the CDC saying 41 million doses of vaccine have been distributed, but only 23 million people have been vaccinated, there clearly is a distribution issue.

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Dr. David Agus from the USC Keck School of Medicine, and a CBS Medical Expert says part of the issue is the labor intensive nature of the two current vaccines.

“You know, it comes concentrated, so you have to dilute it up, and then after you administer somebody, you have to wait 15 to 30 minutes. So that’s tough to do in very high throughput. The newer vaccines that should come online in the next month or so are Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca, both of those don’t need to be frozen, don’t need to be diluted up, and as soon as you administer to a patient, they can walk away. I talked this morning to a doctor in the UK who went to a nursing home and 120 patients, he did in less than an hour himself, just walking room to room. That’s a new kind of vaccine rollout that we’re gonna have.”

The current prognosis for the new vaccines starting to get into arms is the middle of February, which leaves Dr. Agus optimistic about when mitigation efforts will start to subside, “I think that’s achievable by mid-summer, if the rollout goes as we hope it does and there are no surprises.”

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Surprises would include a significant variant of the virus developing. “The virus is zagging, weaving, and that’s very common in viruses, so we will need to update the vaccine at some point, with some of these new spike proteins like the South African variant, and the UK variant, but that’s expected and science is going to be able to zig and zag with that virus.”

In fact, he says those making the vaccines are already adjusting, “Companies are already making the new variant and getting them ready in case we need them.”

What isn’t clear yet is how often we may need a booster, “Whether it be, you know, months or six months you know because of this, South African strain, where every year, every two years we don’t know yet. But we’ll learn more as we go.”

In Pittsburgh, when we think vaccines, it is Dr. Jonas Salk that comes to mind, and his vaccine for polio that is only required once in a lifetime.

Dr. Agus says this is different, “While certain vaccines elicit remarkable immune responses and can last for a lifetime and certain viruses are wiped out. And you know polio has been wiped out, they’re simply not there anymore. But when you have a lot of a virus like we do now, it’s going to change all the time and you see many variants. When you’re able to wipe out a virus very quickly with a very effective vaccine, like your remarkable polio vaccine you don’t have to reprime on it and that’s a good thing.”

So, while the manufacturers are confident the current vaccines will give you a year of protection, only time – and the virus – will determine our future with COVID-19.

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But Dr. Agus is confident one thing is with us for good. The need to wear masks. “The new normal is going to be you wear a mask when you’re sick, which is what the Asian countries do. You have a cold, you wear a mask if you go out of the house, and that’s a sign of respect for everybody else in your community.”