Federal officials suggest cutting COVID-19 vaccines in half to speed up immunizations for Americans

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As the UK and India begin ramping up their vaccine campaigns in the midst of another deluge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, officials from Operation Warp Speed are in discussion with Moderna about cutting their vaccine in half to speed up immunizations in the U.S.

Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor of Operation Warp Speed tells Politico that for people between the ages of 18 and 55, "half doses give identical immune response” to the recommended one hundred microgram dose.

“It will be based on facts and data to immunize more people,” Slaoui said on CBS' "Face the Nation," adding,” of course we continue to produce more vaccine doses.”

In order to receive the necessary herd immunity, health officials say the country will have to be about 80 percent vaccinated.

Infection disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci opposes the notion of the government straying form the doses used in clinical trials on the vaccines.

"We know what the science tells us," Fauci said on NBC's "Meet the Press," without directly addressing Slaoui's suggestion. "So my feeling ... is let's do it the way the clinical trials have instructed us to do it. But let's get more efficient into getting it into people's arms."

The U.S. has reported more than 20.4 million coronavirus cases and 350,000 deaths so far.