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Michigan to receive 121K COVID-19 vaccine doses each of the next two weeks

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan health officials expect to receive 120,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccines each of the next two weeks, The Detroit News learned Monday.

The increase in doses over last week's allotment comes as Michigan is now scheduled to receive shipments of the Michigan-made Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as well as the newly approved Moderna vaccine, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

However, Michigan officials say the number of doses is still well below what was previously indicated by the federal government. The state received 84,825 doses in the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine last week.

"We are expecting 60,450 doses of Pfizer and 60,450 of Moderna this week and next week," state health department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said. "We had been provided larger allocation numbers a couple of weeks ago. However, we have said they were always subject to change."

This vial contains five doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 which were administered to health care workers at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids on Monday, December 14, 2020.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized an emergency rollout of the Moderna vaccine last week. It's similar to the one produced by Pfizer but doesn't require as cold of a storage environment.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has urged the White House to explain why Michigan and other states are receiving a fraction of the coronavirus vaccines they were promised. She said answers from the Trump administration about vaccine availability were nonexistent.

"We have Michigan hospitals and nursing homes ready to administer this vaccine and the bottleneck appears to be the White House and I can’t get an answer why," she said Friday. 

Whitmer has said Pfizer, which is manufacturing the entire North American supply at its flagship facility in Portage, indicated last week that it hasn't received the information it needs from the federal government in order to ship vaccines it has in stock.

Federal officials have called the tension between the federal government and states like Michigan the result of "miscommunication."

Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership created by the Trump administration to develop and deploy a COVID-19 vaccine, is in charge of logistics, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

On Saturday, Gen. Gustave Perna, the Army general in charge of COVID-19 vaccines, apologized Saturday for the miscommunication with states on the number of early doses delivered.

► More: 'Where are our doses?': Whitmer frustrated by decreased vaccine supply

Meanwhile, workplaces, especially larger employers like the Detroit automakers, could soon play a critical informational and coordination role in helping the state meet its goal of inoculating at least 70% of adults before the end of 2021.

How exactly the vaccine will be distributed to essential workers and to the general public has yet to be determined. The focus, for now, is on doling out initial doses to front-line health care workers and those in long-term care facilities.

As of Monday, the state recorded 463,403 cases and 11,532 deaths from the virus. New cases have also been declining for three straight weeks.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said Friday she expects the vaccines to become available to the public by late spring.

She's also cautiously optimistic as the state's positivity rates have declined from 14% to 12.3% over the past seven days. A positivity rate above 3% is concerning to public health officials.

Across the state, the case rate has dropped from 739 cases per million people per day on Nov. 14 to 439 cases per million people per day currently and the proportion of hospital beds being used for COVID-19 patients dropped to 17.3%, down from a peak of 20.1% Dec. 1.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_