Biden officials defend two-dose strategy amid fears of variants

Don’t expect a U.K.-like emphasis on first doses in the U.S. anytime soon.

Top Biden administration health officials made clear Monday that they are not changing strategy to give people only one dose of vaccine instead of two in an effort to speed the process, but at the same time urged health care providers not to be overly cautious in holding second doses in reserve.

Some health experts have said the U.S. should prioritize getting the first dose of vaccine in as many people as quickly as possible, before more contagious variants take even greater hold in the coming weeks.

Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, said the U.S. should “call an audible” and prioritize first doses even if it means delaying second doses, given the threat of a new variant first identified in the United Kingdom that could strain hospitals even more.

But top Biden administration officials said Monday they are not changing their strategy, noting that the clinical trials were conducted with two doses, so that is what has been shown to work.

“We said we would follow the science in rolling out these vaccines and that is our intent,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky.