U.S. to ship around 4.7 million vaccine doses next week -U.S. Army General

FILE PHOTO: Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington
Carl O'Donnell and Lisa Baertlein

By Carl O'Donnell and Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) -The U.S. government and its partners will distribute 4.67 million doses of Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine next week, bringing the total number of doses slated for shipment this year to around 20 million, U.S. Army General Gustave Perna said on Wednesday.

Perna said some deliveries of the first 20 million doses will drag on until the first week of January. Administering all those doses to patients could take even longer, U.S. Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui said.

"The commitment that we can make is to make vaccine doses available," Slaoui said told a press call. "How fast the ramp ups of immunizations, the shots in arms, is happening is slower than we thought it would be."

Healthcare workers in the United States have given around 1 million shots so far, a fraction of the total that have been shipped, according to public data. U.S. officials said that data on vaccinations is operating at a lag of several days.

The United States is on track to vaccinate 100 million Americans by the end of March, officials said, noting that other drugmakers are expected to receive authorization in the coming months and boost availability of shots.

Johnson & Johnson could receive emergency authorization by late January and could be distributing shots by February, Slaoui said. AstraZeneca Plc's vaccine could be authorized in the United States by late February or early March, he added.

(Reporting by Carl O'Donnell in New York, Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Pullin)