AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday outside a UPS distribution center in northeast Austin that Operation Warp Speed is a “monumental medical miracle.”
Gov. Abbott said there have already been about 95,000 doses of the Pfizer-produced vaccine delivered, and Thursday an additional 129,000 doses will be delivered, making around 224,000 doses distributed in Texas the first week of availability.
The governor expects more doses next week following the assumption that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine gains emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. An FDA panel is discussing that Thursday.
“There will be well over a million people vaccinated in the state of Texas alone, just this month,” he said. “And those numbers will continue to increase as production continues to increase.”
As COVID-19 cases in Texas reach record levels, roughly 1.3 million with nearly 25,000 deaths according to the Department of State Health Services COVID-19 dashboard, Gov. Abbott said Texas must use “every tool we have to reduce hospitalizations in the state.”
He said in addition to the vaccines, antibody therapeutic treatments produced by Regeneron and Eli Lilly need to “get off the shelf and get to people that need them.”
“There was great discussion when I was at the White House earlier this week about the urgency to make sure that these drugs are provided to people,” he said. “These are life-saving antibody therapeutic drugs.”
Beginning Dec. 28, the Long-Term Care Pharmacy Partnership will activate and doses of the vaccines will be delivered to select Walgreens and CVS stores and available to nursing homes and other similar long-term care facilities for residents and employees.
Doses for the partnership will be reserved starting next week, Gov. Abbott said.
John Hellerstedt, M.D., DSHS commissioner, said the vaccines provide “a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.”
“These vaccines are proven safe and effective,” Hellerstedt said. “We’re seeing the power of what science can do, the power of our genius of the scientists and the people developing this vaccine.”
Gov. Abbott reiterated that he won’t authorize anymore business shutdowns due to the pandemic. He said it’s time to “put shutdowns behind us.”
“We need to focus on opening up businesses,” he said. “Every adult in Texas has the responsibility to follow the same practices as we continue to work our way out of this. If they do that, we can contain COVID-19 while we continue the process of vaccinating our fellow Texans and continue to open up.”
In the state house, State Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, said Texas has bounced back from supply chain problems relating to procuring personal protective equipment.
The state is doing everything possible to, you know, address all the challenges,” Price said Thursday.
State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, said the state’s pandemic response has lagged.
“I’m happy to say that there is a statewide distribution system. It has been largely dictated by the CDC, thank goodness,” she chided.
Abbott said he himself plans to take the vaccine “at the appropriate time,” but he has not yet gotten it because he would rather see healthcare workers on the front lines get vaccinated first.
WATCH: Gov. Abbott delivers update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Texas