Vaccination data update, Jan. 3

Despite the holidays, several more states began reporting vaccination data in the past week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also made a huge update: this national dashboard is now posting vaccination counts at the state level.

Here are the notable updates:

  • I launched a vaccination data page on the CDD site which includes annotations on ten major national sources and every state’s vaccination reporting. I’ll be updating it weekly—the most recent update was yesterday.
  • Five states have started regularly reporting vaccination data since December 27: Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. 32 total states are now reporting these data; 15 states are reporting race and ethnicity of vaccinated residents. See more details on the resource page.
  • On December 30, the CDC started reporting state-level vaccination data on its national COVID-19 dashboard. For every state, the CDC is reporting total vaccine doses distributed and total people who have received their first dose. The dashboard also includes national counts—both for the U.S. as a whole and for long-term care facilities. Data are not yet available for download. According to the most recent update (yesterday, January 2), 4.2 million Americans have received their first dose.
  • Drew Armstrong, the Bloomberg reporter who runs the publication’s vaccination dashboard, posted a vaccine data user guide on Twitter. While the Tweet thread primarily describes the methodology and design choices behind Bloomberg’s dashboard, it also provides useful context for vaccination data overall. Two notable details: all vaccination data lag (the CDC’s data lag by about 50 hours, according to Armstrong), and Bloomberg is working on making the underlying data behind their dashboard public.
  • Benjy Renton halted updates for the “Doses Administered” tracker on his Vaccine Allocation Dashboard. As the CDC is now providing standardized state counts—and Renton is a one-person tracking operation—he’s switching to focus on analyzing vaccination trends and accessibility.  
  • Distribution delays: Operation Warp Speed promised that, if the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, 20 million Americans would get vaccine doses by the end of 2020. That clearly didn’t happen. What went wrong? To answer that question, I recommend two articles: this STAT News story and this CNN story. Both articles suggest that a lag in data reporting may be one reason why the current vaccination counts look so low. Still, there’s a big difference between 4.2 million and 20 million.
  • Vaccination and the new COVID-19 strain: As the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, identified in the U.K., becomes an increasingly ominous threat to America’s COVID-19 containment, vaccination becomes increasingly urgent. Zeynep Tufekci’s latest piece in The Atlantic explains the issue. One piece that stuck out to me: the U.S. doesn’t have good genomic surveillance—or, a system to systematically sequence the virus genomes for people infected with SARS-CoV-2—which makes us less equipped to see where the new strain is actually spreading. As Tufekci puts it: “we are flying without a map.”
  • One dose or two? Scientists and public health leaders have been debating changing our vaccination protocol. Should the U.S. stick to the script, so to speak, and reserve enough vaccine doses that everyone who receives one dose can receive a second in the prescribed time window? Or should we give as many people first doses as we can, accepting that some may not get a second dose for months—or at all? (The U.K. opted for the latter earlier this week.) University of Washington professor Carl Bergstrom has compiled some Twitter threads that explain the debate. Dr. Fauci said on Friday that the U.S. will stick to the official two-dose regimen, but the scientific discourse will likely continue.

Related posts

  • Booster shots exacerbate global vaccine inequity
    At the end of last week’s post on booster shots, I wrote that these additional doses take up airtime in expert discussions and in the media, distracting from discussions of what it will take to vaccinate the world. But these shots do more harm than just taking over the media cycle. When the U.S. and other wealthy nations decide to give many residents third doses, they jump the vaccine supply line again—leaving low-income nations to wait even longer for first doses.
  • Another COVID-19 endgame take
    Trevor Bedford, computational virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center—and widely regarded expert on coronavirus variants—wrote a useful Twitter thread this week. In the thread, Bedford provides his take on the “COVID-19 endgame.” In other words, what will happen once the virus reaches endemic levels?
  • Unreliable population numbers hinder vaccination rate analysis
    An excellent article in the Financial Times, published this past Monday, illuminates one major challenge of estimating a vaccine campaign’s success: population data are not always reliable. Health reporter Oliver Barnes and data reporter John Burn-Murdoch explain that, in several countries and smaller regions, inaccurate counts of how many people live in the region have led to vaccination rate estimates that make the area’s vaccine campaign look more successful—or less successful—than it really is.
  • Booster shots: What we’ve learned—and what we still don’t know
    This week, the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee had a two-day meeting to discuss booster shots for Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines. From the outside, these meetings may have appeared fairly straightforward: the committee voted unanimously to recommend booster shots for both vaccines. But in fact, the discussions on both days were wide-reaching and full of questions, touching on the many continued gaps in our knowledge about the need for additional vaccine doses.

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