Documents reveal how much S.C. has spent on COVID-19 vaccine preparation, distribution

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Cape Fear Valley Bladen County Hospital...
A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Cape Fear Valley Bladen County Hospital in Bladen County, N.C. on Wednesday, Dec. 16.(WECT)
Updated: Dec. 30, 2020 at 11:14 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – It has become a costly task for states to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and distribute the highly-anticipated vaccine.

But state and federal funding are helping ease that burden.

The department’s most recent expense report obtained by WMBF Investigates says as of December 17, DHEC has spent over $100 million in state and federal funding.

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When totaling up the balances of what’s left, over $200 million remains. However, according to spending estimates from an earlier expense report in the fall, DHEC projected that this money has already been spoken for.

The largest bulk of money - over $44 million - went to testing.

Earlier this week, WMBF reported that the CDC will send out at least $4.5 billion of federal funding to states to help with the rollout of the vaccine. A portion of this is supposed to be distributed within the next month. At this point, DHEC does not know how much the state will receive from this funding.

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However, this isn’t the first time South Carolina has received federal funding to help with the planning and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to DHEC’s most recent COVID-19 funds expenditure report, out of the nearly $2.4 million federal grant that the CDC sent out in September for vaccine preparation, only $283,530 has actually been spent.

But it’s important to know that the statement doesn’t tell the full story. DHEC officials explained the agency has obligated a great deal of that funding. So, in total, $1.8 million has been spent or already committed to vaccine preparation and distribution.

The CDC also sent another federal grant earlier this month to help with vaccine preparation, but this wasn’t included in the report.

When asked what DHEC believes their budget needs to be in order to carry out vaccine distribution for the next many months, the department said, “current estimates for continued testing and vaccinations could be as high as $139 million.”

WMBF Investigates asked DHEC to clarify the number that’s needed solely for vaccination capabilities. We have not heard back yet on that.

DHEC said those latest funds coming from the federal government’s COVID-19 relief package that President Donald Trump signed on Sunday will go toward vaccine distribution and mass vaccination efforts.

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