Winter storm has delayed shipments of 6 million Covid vaccine doses in the U.S., health officials say

Massive winter storms across the Midwest and Texas have delayed the delivery of 6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses affecting every state in the U.S., the nation's top health officials said Friday.

The backlog represents three days worth of delayed shipments, White House senior advisor for Covid response Andy Slavitt said during a press briefing.

"Many states have been able to cover some of this delay with existing inventory," Slavitt said.

The delayed shipments stem from three main points in the vaccines distribution chain impacted by the weather, he said. Delivery hubs at UPS, FedEx and McKesson, which have been charged with delivering the doses to the states, have reported staffing shortages.

Slavitt said their workers "have been snowed in and unable to get to work to package" the vaccines, administration kits and other supplies.

Road closures have also held up the delivery of the vaccines between manufacturing sites and shipping hubs. On top of that, more than 2,000 vaccine distribution sites are unable to receive doses because they're in locations hampered by power outages, he said.

Slavitt added that because of strict cold-chain requirements for storing the doses, it's better to hold back the shipments than to send them to those places where the shots might expire after three days. He added that the vaccines are "sitting safe and sound in our factories and hubs ready to be shipped" as soon as the weather improves.

"As weather conditions improve, we are already looking to clear this backlog," Slavitt said, adding that 1.4 million doses are being shipped on Friday. He said the administration anticipates "all the backlog doses will be delivered in the next week."

"We expect we will be able to manage this backlog and the new production coming online next week," Slavitt said.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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