Bay Area officials expected second shipments of the coronavirus vaccine as early as Monday to inoculate more people faster as patients continue to flood California hospitals struggling with low intensive care unit capacities.
On Sunday, millions of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were distributed to the 50 states, only two days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the experimental treatment. The approval also came just a day after a Western state scientific panel endorsed the vaccine.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “While California is in some of the darkest days of our COVID-19 surge, with too many families grieving lost loved ones, there is light as more vaccines are approved for distribution. With the Moderna vaccine in circulation, we have another tool to fight this deadly disease.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, formally accepted on Sunday the recommendation given by his agency’s advisory team. They said that the pharmaceutical company’s vaccine is safe to give to adults and should start distribution across the nation.
An infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, said on Sunday, “California will probably get it as soon as tomorrow morning, L.A. or the Bay Area.” The medical professional said he was unsure of when vaccines would be distributed as the process would be vastly different from Pfizer’s.
Chin-Hong called the arrival of Moderna’s vaccine as a milestone for the nation as it would significantly support the inoculation of citizens. He added it would greatly help the vaccination of health care workers and skilled nursing facility staff and residents in the next two weeks. Last week, hundreds of essential workers in the Bay Area received Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
The UCSF is expected to receive about 8,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine initially and about 25,000 total before the year ends, Chin-Hong said. He added California officials are looking to receive about 672,000 doses with the shipments that would begin this week.
California has recorded a total of 16,843 hospitalized patients with the coronavirus as of Saturday. The number is three times the recorded last month at 4,755 cases. The Bay Area hit its peak of hospitalized patients at 1,700, which is also over three times the number recorded the previous month at 511.
On Sunday, the intensive care unit capacities in the Bay Area averaged at about 12.4% on Saturday. In Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley regions, ICU capacities remained at zero as of Sunday.
Over the past seven days, officials observed a more disturbing trend where California saw a 13.3% positivity rate. Health experts are monitoring the situation closely and observed a sharp spike from last week’s 10.5%.