States are racing to get Covid-19 vaccine supplies and distribution in order as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday of more contagious variants of coronavirus potentially exacerbating the spread.
CDC officials implored Americans to continue with preventative measures against the coronavirus, while highlighting the variant first identified in Britain known as B.1.1.7.
The B.1.1.7 variant appears to more readily infect human cells and one CDC simulation of its transmissibility raised concerns that it could become the United States' most dominant form of coronavirus in March.
The CDC called for aggressive vaccine distribution to try to stem the tide. "Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public," CDC researchers warned.
On Friday, more than 3,400 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the U.S., as the total death toll from the pandemic edged closer to 400,000. The nation also recorded its 11th consecutive day of more than 200,000 infections, per Johns Hopkins University data.
At least 12.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. as of Friday, according to the CDC, as the federal vaccine rollout has received intense scrutiny and criticism from state officials.
Some states were upset by news from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who said Friday there is no "reserve stockpile" of vaccines available to release.
"We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people, so we're not sitting on a reserve anymore," Azar told NBC News' Lester Holt. "We've made that available to the states to order."
Get more of the latest virus updates:
- In a dig at the outgoing Trump administration, President-elect Joe Biden said the team of scientific advisers he introduced Saturday will lead with "science and truth. We believe in both.”
- Democratic Rep. Lou Correa of California said Saturday he has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss Biden's inauguration while isolating.
- More than 31 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been distributed to states and other jurisdictions in the United States, but only 12.2 million — 39% — have actually been administered, according to the latest data from the CDC.
- Earlier this week, the CDC announced that, as of Tuesday, Jan. 26, all air passengers ages two and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the United States. The new rule includes US citizens and legal permanent residents.