Dr. Scott Gottlieb expects the scarcity to proceed till subsequent week

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday that he expected the shortage of Covid-19 vaccine doses to continue into the coming week, even if the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency approval for Moderna’s vaccine.

“I’ve spoken to hospitals. They vaccinate far fewer health care providers than they could be because they simply don’t have the doses available,” the former FDA chief and Pfizer board member said on Squawk Box. “I don’t think they’ll catch up next week, even after the Moderna cans have shipped and you have more supplies in the canal.”

Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of Hospitals & Clinics at the University of Iowa, produced a report similar to CNBC.

“We received a Pfizer batch of 975 doses earlier this week, and we can report that we finished vaccinating 975 people yesterday,” Gunasekaran said in Squawk on the Street on Friday. “To be completely honest, if we had to vaccinate double or triple the amount of this vaccine in the past few days, we could. The availability of vaccines was really our move to limit the rate.”

The US began administering shots to health care workers on Monday, just days after Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine received limited regulatory approval. Confusion has emerged in the past few days, however, as some governors across the country have announced that they are now receiving fewer doses than expected in the coming weeks.

The Department of Health and Human Services has pushed back on these proposals, telling CNBC in a statement that “reducing jurisdiction allocations are wrong”. The statement added, “As with the first shipments of Pfizer vaccines, jurisdictions will receive vaccines in different locations over several days.”

In a statement Thursday, Pfizer said manufacturing had not been disrupted despite claims made earlier this week by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that the drug company had a manufacturing problem that resulted in dose shortages.

“This week we successfully delivered all of the 2.9 million cans that we were asked to ship by the US government to the locations they specified,” Pfizer said. “We still have millions of cans in our warehouse, but we haven’t received shipping instructions for additional cans yet.”

The US government has announced that it will ship 2 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine next week. Moderna’s vaccine could get emergency approval as early as Friday, and US officials said close to 6 million doses of its vaccine could be shipped next week.

Gottlieb told CNBC that he believed some of the confusion about the availability of Pfizer’s vaccine supplies could be due to government concerns about the logistics network. He said they may want to moderate the supply of Pfizer’s vaccine in the system to make sure the distribution network can handle it and the doses don’t pile up anywhere.

“I think they should take some risk and lean forward to get more doses into the arms of people, both Moderna and Pfizer,” Gottlieb said, noting the current intensity of the US epidemic. “I think it is very important at the moment to bring as much protective immunity as possible into the population.”

Hospital workers and residents of long-term care facilities are given priority in the first wave of vaccine distribution. “I think they could have got more vaccines through the hospitals this month than they do. We could vaccinate a lot more people,” said Gottlieb.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus, and the biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has signed a manufacturing agreement with Gilead to manufacture Remdesivir. Gottlieb is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Panel.

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