12-18 COVID-19 Update: MDH Says Less Pfizer Vaccine Than Expected to Arrive Next Week
12-18 COVID-19 Update from Minnesota Department of Health
The Minnesota Department of Health held conference call Friday, Dec. 18, to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19. This is a summary of that call.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Global pace of COVID-19 growth not slowing down
- 13,000 additional deaths worldwide
- 232,000 more cases in the U.S. yesterday and another 3,280 deaths
- 17.2 million cases overall in the U.S. since the pandemic began
- 310,000 total deaths in the U.S. since the pandemic began
- In MN, 391,889 overall cases in Minnesota
- 2,737 new cases reported on a volume of 63,994 lab tests
- 65 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota
- 4,723 total deaths reported in Minnesota since the start of the pandemic
- 1,144 people in Minnesota hospitals, 270 in intensive care
- The rate of growth is half of what it was the prior week. It’s at 5.6% currently, down from 10.1% the week prior.
- We’re now at 63 new cases a day per 100,000 people in MN. It’s half of what it was in early November, but still high above the state and national “high risk” threshold of ten new cases a day per 100,000 people.
- The seven-day average testing positivity rate is 9.7% bringing us down below the high risk threshold of 10% for the first time in quite a while.
- These are positive signs, but there’s still a lot of virus circulating in the communities. We need to maintain the preventative measures as the holidays approach.
MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann:
- A mixture of hope and patience is needed this week regarding the vaccine
- We expect that the FDA will make an announcement on the Moderna vaccine soon (it’s 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 illness)
- This will be the second vaccine that has been approved as safe and effective
- Moderna vaccine could begin shipping out next week
- We will have access to 94,900 doses in the first shipment of the Moderna vaccines
- Primary focus for these doses is staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities across the state
- Minnesota is currently in the process of receiving our first allotment of the 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as planned. We expect those shipments to be done today.
- All 25 hub locations in the state are expected to have received their shipments by the end of the day
- Some hub sites have already begun vaccinating, which is really exciting
- As of today, 947 health care workers have been vaccinated in MN
- Unfortunately there is still a very small amount of Pfizer vaccine available. We have more demand than we have supply of the vaccine right now
- Minnesota was among the states informed by the federal government that they will receive less vaccine than we were initially planning for in the second shipment of Pfizer vaccine coming into the state next week.
- Minnesota will receive 33,150 doses in that allotment
- Pfizer said the lesser amounts are due to “manufacturing fluctuations”
- The state is adding a new web page on the website showing the latest numbers of vaccine that Minnesota is receiving from the federal government
- The shipments coming into Minnesota are being allocated according to the approach that we’ve discussed before.
- We know that there’s great interest in vaccine, and as a quick reminder of this process, the federal government tells us what we’re allocated as a state, and the state decides how it’s best to distribute that to the regions and then the federal government ships it through their systems directly to the vaccine providers.
- Excited about getting more vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna in the weeks to come
- Keep in mind there are more vaccines at various stages of trial and review.
- MDH will keep sharing updates as they learn more, and they will continue to strike that balance of hope and patience.
- Meanwhile, the amount of vaccine in the Pfizer vials have extra product in them after the five doses are taken. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is aware of the issue and working with Pfizer to determine the best path forward.
- MDH has informed providers that they will share information with them once they have written guidance from the FDA. It’s important to understand that FDA is the authorizing entity, and MDH does not have a role in either authorizing or not authorizing the use of extra doses.
- The federal government has not publicly announced the guidance on this topic, but the FDA has indicated that it is advising and it is acceptable to use every full dose attainable.
- While the MDH waits for written guidance from the FDA, their best recommendation for health care providers is to rely on their own internal guidance and protocols as they apply in this context.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Consequence of opening bars and restaurants right now — Jan Malcolm says that while recent trends are encouraging, MN is still high above our risk threshold. Looking back at what happened when we hit that exponential growth phase, when we got to about 15-20 new cases per 100,000, things can change quickly. So that’s the context when we think about how safe it is to open up environments that we know are riskier. We need to see two solid weeks of a decline to be sure that it’s a valid decline.
- Malcolm says it’s unfortunate that businesses like bars create the type of environment where the virus could be spread. But we believe it’s critical that we enforce the executive orders. It’s also important that these businesses get some sort of economic relief. It’s regrettable that it’s pitting business survival against risk of the spread of the virus.
- Ehresmann says Minnesota was initially supposed to receive 58,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but instead Minnesota is getting 33,150 next week. She says that when things change, the public shouldn’t be surprised. These numbers are changing rapidly. No projections on what the allocation will be week after week.
- For 90 days after you’ve had COVID, there wouldn’t be a risk of transmitting it to others. In terms of the vaccine, there’s no shedding of COVID from this vaccine. It’s not possible because of the nature of the vaccine. Ehresmann says we cannot comment on the role the vaccine will have in preventing asymptomatic infections. Even after people have been vaccinated, they need to follow the mitigation strategies. We expect to get more data on this in the weeks and months ahead.
- Each region of the state will receive the vaccine, according to Ehresmann. Eighty-five percent of the vaccine is based on the needs of the region. Fifteen percent is based on the social vulnerability index, and that’s helps to dictate the last 15 percent of the allocation. The initial doses are going to health care workers and long term care residents.