Despite all the talk about Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine being more accessible than the Pfizer-BioNTech iteration due to the less-stringent temperature requirements, it appears that several batches of the vaccine shipped out to Texas last week have effectively spoiled due to “straying from their temperature requirements,” according to Bloomberg.
With the US vaccination program lagging far behind Operation Warp Speed year-end targets, at least three shipments of spoiled Moderna vaccines arrived in Texas last week, prompting a delay in future deliveries to the Lone Star state as investigators scramble to figure out what happened.
Several shipments that had been scheduled for delivery before the holiday were held back, said Carrie Kroll, vice president of advocacy, quality and public health for the Texas Hospital Association.
It’s unclear how many doses were affected, or who might be culpable for the mistake. While the affected shipments have been replaced by the federal government, and others were held back by US officials as they looked into issues with temperature sensors, Kroll told reporters that many hospitals in the state were only just now getting doses that were expected a week ago.
“Some of the shipments for week 2 were delayed and were not received by providers until Monday and Tuesday of this week,” Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in an email. The delay contributed to the appearance that Texas has administered a relatively small portion of the vaccine doses allocated to the state.
Kroll, the hospital association official, said hospitals were just now getting some doses that were expected a week ago, but the numbers in the states’ vaccine allocation don’t reflect the delay.
Other reporting problems may make it seem like Texas medical providers are administering fewer shots than they are in reality, she said. Some hospital systems have had trouble with the data system the state uses to track immunizations, she said. Shots they administer aren’t properly logged in the central system, and the discrepancies need to be resolved case-by-case.
“It’ll look like there’s vaccine sitting on the shelf when it’s actually been administered,” Kroll said.
As of Monday, only 2.13MM Americans had received the shots, despite the fact that 11.45MM doses of the vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer have been distributed to the states.
Many of the larger states like New York and California have lagged, so West Virginia and other smaller states are reporting the highest rates so far.
When asked by the press, officials from the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed that doses had been delayed but didn’t directly respond to specific questions about what went wrong.
“Some of the shipments for week 2 were delayed and were not received by providers until Monday and Tuesday of this week,” Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said..
Though, if nothing else, the delays explain Texas’s conspicuously low vaccination rate…
…While offering another reminder that OWS’s optimistic vaccination timeline seems more grounded in fantasy than reality right now.