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Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, urged the U.S. on Sunday to vaccinate as many people over 65 as possible ahead of a potential COVID-19 surge caused by the new strain first detected in England.

The big picture: About 1.3 million doses per day are being administered on average, per a New York Times analysis — on track with President Biden's goal to give Americans 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines in 100 days. But the rollout in the states has been rocky.

  • The Biden administration is still trying to find more than 20 million vaccine doses distributed to states, Politico reports. States are relying on county health departments and local officials to arrange inoculations, as the CDC's vaccine administration website reportedly flounders and is not widely used.

What he's saying: "Let me say right now, we do have to call an audible," Osterholm said, referring to the U.S. vaccine distribution plan. "The fact is that the surge that is likely to occur with this new variant from England, is gonna happen in the next 6 to 14 weeks."

  • "And if we see that happen, which my 45 years in the trenches tell us we will, we are going to see something like we have not seen yet in this country. England, for example, is hospitalizing twice as many people as we ever had hospitalized at our highest number."
  • "So we still want to get two doses in everyone but I think right now in advance of this surge, we need it to get as many one doses in as many people over 65 as we possibly can to reduce serious illness and deaths that are going to occur over the weeks ahead."

Of note: While Osterholm, in line with the CDC, believes the U.K. strain could ultimately become the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S., he added that the variant "has not shown its ability to evade the protection from the vaccine," although it has shown to be more transmissible.

The bottom line: "I mean, imagine where we're at, Chuck, right now. You and I are sitting on this beach where it's 70 degrees, perfectly blue skies, gentle breeze. But I see that hurricane five, category five or higher, 450 miles offshore," Osterholm said.

Go deeper

Sep 29, 2021 - Health

CDC issues urgent advisory calling on pregnant people to get COVID vaccine

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The CDC issued "an urgent health advisory" on Wednesday urging people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why it matters: The CDC said it "strongly recommends" vaccination because its benefits for a pregnant person and the fetus outweigh the risks. It added that pregnant people with COVID-19 are at "increased risk" of outcomes such as preterm birth, stillbirth and admission of a newborn into the ICU.

AT&T mandates COVID vaccination for most unionized workers

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

AT&T expanded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate Wednesday to employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union.

Why it matters: The communications giant is one of the biggest employers in the U.S. to require frontline workers to be vaccinated against the virus. The union said it represents some 90,000 AT&T workers, per AP.

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

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