The Latest: Tennessee probe finds wasted vaccines

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President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual roundtable with Black essential workers hosted by Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 2,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Tennessee’s most populous county went to waste over the past month while local officials sat on tens of thousands of shots that they thought had already gone into arms, the state’s top health official announced Tuesday.

The finding comes after the Department of Health launched an investigation over the weekend into a report that recent winter storms caused 1,000 doses to be tossed in Shelby County, which encompasses Memphis.

But Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey on Tuesday revealed that the problems were far more widespread. She said issues dating back to Feb. 3 included multiple incidents of spoiled doses, an excessive vaccine inventory, insufficient record-keeping and a lack of a formal process for managing soon-to-expire vaccines. A federal investigation is also expected.

As a result, Shelby County’s local health department will temporarily no longer be allowed to allocate the vaccine. Instead, Memphis city officials, hospitals, clinics and other pharmacies throughout the county will handle the distribution. Meanwhile, the physical management of the vaccine will now be handled by hospital partners.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

Drug executives tell Congressional hearing an increase in vaccine supply is coming soon. The White House says states will get 14.5M doses of vaccine this week. Some British rush to book holiday plans amid plans to gradually end lockdown. Russia’s vaccine rollout picks up speed but experts say it's still moving slowly. “One Good Thing” keeps on giving to those in need, helpers.

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