Fauci calls the winter storm in Texas a major downside for Covid vaccinations

The director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaks during a White House press conference led by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House January 21, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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The winter storm and blackouts across Texas are creating a “significant” problem for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, warned White House chief medical officer Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Thursday.

“Well, obviously it’s a problem. It slowed down and stalled in a few places,” Fauci said during an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “We just have to make up for it as soon as the weather subsides a bit, the ice melts and we can get the trucks and the people out.”

“It’s important when you have this part of the country … which is really immobilized in many ways,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Biden administration is working to accelerate the pace of vaccination in the US after a slower-than-expected rollout under former President Donald Trump. However, the Texas winter storm is causing some deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines to be delayed and vaccination sites to temporarily close.

According to PowerOutage.us, nearly half a million Texans are still without electricity as of Thursday morning after the state’s power grid failed to keep pace with heat demands at record temperatures and caused more than 4 million outages. According to The Weather Channel, millions of people are still under the reference to boiling water.

The storm disrupted service at the FedEx hub in Memphis and led to parcel delays in the US, the company said earlier this week. UPS’s Worldport package hub in Louisville, Kentucky, and another regional hub in Dallas have since reopened after temporarily closing Monday night due to the weather.

It is unclear how this will affect the three new community vaccination centers in Dallas, Arlington and Houston, which the Biden government plans to help build. Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s Covid Tsar, told reporters last week that the centers would be operational for the week of February 22nd, allowing vendors to manage more than 10,000 shots a day.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As soon as Texas opens more roads and residents have uninterrupted electricity, healthcare providers will have to “double” the Covid-19 vaccinations, Fauci said Thursday.

Around 3 million of the roughly 29 million Texans have received at least their first dose of the Pfid or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines in two doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 1.2 million of those people have already got their second shot.

Fauci added that he does not know how many doses of vaccine could have been destroyed due to power outages or delivery delays.

– CNBC’s Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report.

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