The Donald Trump administration on Tuesday suddenly shifted gears in order to ramp up its COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Instead of reserving vaccines for the first priority group and their required second doses, the U.S. has decided to speed up its inoculation process.
"Every vaccine dose that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost or one more hospital bed occupied."
The U.S. Health and Human Services is now recommending states to administer vaccine doses to the next vulnerable group those aged 65 or older and those under 64 but with underlying health complications.
So far, only a handful of states including Texas, Florida and Georgia have begun inoculations on this group.
But, experts are divided on what they think about the change.
"To get a partial vaccine to people, even if that means delaying the second dose, may be prudent from a public health perspective and offering some protection to more people rather than complete two-dose protection to a smaller group of people."
"It will affect the effectiveness of the vaccine, because the vaccine is guaranteed to protect the people when it's vaccinated twice within a given period I think it defeats the purpose of the vaccination."
Meanwhile, South Korea has announced that it will start vaccinations as early as February to 36-million people in the first priority group.
The government will stagger its schedules throughout the year with those between the ages of 19 to 49 to receive their vaccinations from the third quarter of 2021.
One medical expert says that because South Korea's vaccine rollout schedule is slightly behind that of the U.S., it is in a better position to wait and see whether the changes have an impact on the vaccine's effectiveness.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News