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Covid vaccine distribution has been slower than US officers assumed

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UPS package handlers Jesirae Elzey and Demeatres Ralston unload boxes of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives at UPS Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky on December 20, 2020.

Michael Clevenger | Pool | Reuters

Coronavirus vaccine distribution has been slower than US officials hoped, as the number of vaccinations is well below the US government's target of 20 million by the end of the year, federal health officials said Wednesday.

Just over 1 million people in the United States received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's about 19 million doses less than previous December projections, and officials have less than two weeks – about eight days – to try to fill that void.

"Exactly how fast the start of vaccinations and gun shots is slower than we expected," said Dr. Moncef Slaoui, tsar of President Donald Trump's coronavirus vaccine, told reporters during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

US officials said they are still resolving some issues in the distribution system after some can deliveries went to the wrong destinations and others on the wrong day.

Army General Gustave Perna, who oversees logistics for Operation Warp Speed, said the US government has so far "done a good job" delivering millions of Covid vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna to states, territories and major cities across the country to distribute. But he added that US officials are still "learning" with the sales process getting "better" and "stronger" day by day.

"We had a handful of packages that we were trying to deliver that weren't destined for the right location, but we captured them before they were dropped off and we diverted them to the right location," Perna told reporters during a press conference Wednesday afternoon . "And we had a couple … shows that didn't go out on the right day."

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Steven Gregory