Vaccine supply getting a boost, but demand still vastly outweighs it

Travis Fischer
Eclipse News-Review

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine continues across the state as more of the population completes their first round of vaccinations.

"It's really hard to believe that just 46 days ago not a single dose of vaccine had even arrived in Iowa yet," said Governor Kim Reynolds on Wednesday, January 27. "Since then, more than 200,000 vaccines have been administered in Iowa."

Starting on February 1, with the expectation that the bulk of Iowa's front line healthcare workers and long term care staff and residents have at least received their first dose of vaccine, the state has opened the vaccine eligibility up to Iowans 65 and older.

The challenge now is supplying health care providers with enough vaccine to meet demand for the general populous.

At the current rate of allocation, even as the state adds unexpended vaccine supplies from pharmacy companies to their total and works to more efficiently get more doses out of every vial, it will still take several weeks, if not months, to vaccinate just Iowa's senior population.

On the upside, news broke last week that Johnson & Johnson is well on their way to developing a third variant of the COVID-19 vaccine, joining the ranks of Pfizer and Moderna. Developed at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, the vaccine trial has shown it to be less effectiveness than its counterparts so far, with an 85% effective rate at preventing severe disease conditions and a 66% effectiveness rate at preventing moderate conditions. However, that it's a single shot vaccine rather than one that requires two doses means that it can be effectively distributed much faster.

Reynolds said that the Janssen vaccine is on track to receive FDA approval next month.

In the meantime, Reynolds has met with representatives from the federal government and brought back welcome news that the state would be seeing a 16% increase in its current vaccine allotment.

"In Iowa, this should equate to an additional 6,300 doses and they did say that the increased amount is guaranteed for the next three weeks," said Reynolds. "I want to remind Iowans that the vaccine supply will still remain limited for quite some time."

In total, as of Sunday, January 31, the State of Iowa has administered 254,043 doses of vaccine to 241,698 residents. This includes 137,942 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has been distributed to county level public health departments for front line healthcare workers; and 116,101 doses of Pfizer vaccine, which has been used to vaccine long term care facility staff and residents.

As of Sunday there have been 319,408 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 313,139 total from the week prior by 6,269. This continues the downward trend of new cases over the last few weeks. Governor Reynolds stated last week that COVID levels have dropped to a rate that the state hasn't seen since last August.

In the last week, 4% of new cases have been among the elderly (age 80+), 16% among older adults (60-79); 28% among middle aged adults (40-59); 33% among young adults (18-39); and 18% among children.

With 282,319 considered recovered, that leaves roughly 32,188 Iowans currently known to be fighting the disease, a modest but welcome drop in the number of active cases.

Likewise, hospitalizations also continue their downward trend with 368 patients hospitalized as of Sunday, down 15 from the week prior, including 92 in an ICU.

In testing, a total of 3,625,637 COVID-19 tests have now been performed on 1,473,782 individual Iowans since the pandemic began, including 2,497,415 PCR tests and 1,128,222 antigen tests. In the last week, the state has processed 62,607 PCR tests and 60,517.

In addition, 101,461 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 14,060, about 14%, have tested positive for antibodies.

The percentage of people testing positive for antibodies has dramatically increased over the last two months. After spending months steadily locked in at 6%, the percentage of people testing positive through serology testing started to climb early in December and has more than doubled since then.

Of the 3,510 individuals that have reported serology testing in the last week, 1,249 of them (35%) have tested positive.

Unfortunately, deaths have spiked once again, with 413 added to the state count last week, bringing the total to 4,901.

In total, approximately 2,935 elderly (59.89%); 1,646 older adults (33.59%), 275 middle aged adults (5.63%), 42 young adults (.85%), and at least one child (.04%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

Many of the recent deaths belong to the elderly age group, with 149 new deaths reported from long term care facilities this week, bringing the total to 2,009.

The number of facilities reporting outbreaks continues to drop though, with only 55 considered in outbreak status as of Sunday, down 13 from the week prior. These facilities have 1,641 positive cases among residents and staff with 899 considered recovered.



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