Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the top advisor of Operation Warp Speed – President Donald Trump administration’s effort to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, said if things go as scheduled, the first Americans to receive a vaccine could come as early as the second week of December, CNN reports.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe one day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December,” Slaoui said. “Hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all areas where the State Departments of Health will have told us where to deliver the vaccine.”
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Friday applied to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine. An FDA panel of experts is expected to meet on December 10 to consider the application.
Moderna said its vaccine is 95% successful and would seek emergency use authorization in the coming weeks.
Slaoui confirmed that if the application is granted, the vaccines would be ready for distribution the next day. He also touted the possibility of herd immunity to be achieved by May. He said vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna had shown such promise that if 70% of the population had been immunized by May, then the nation can achieve the needed herd immunity, NY Post writes.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the foremost infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, agreed with postulations made by Slaoui. He said for such a contagious infection as the coronavirus disease, 40 or 50% will not achieve the needed herd immunity. He said that herd immunity is possible by May if most Americans are immunized – which is why the health officials had to get as many people as possible vaccinated.
Fauci said that health officials seek to be transparent in all of their dealings and explain to the public adequately all the processes that lead to the vaccine receiving an FDA emergency authorization, and ultimately a license. He said this step would instill the public’s confidence in the vaccine and get many people to trust its efficacy and safety.
Gallup conducted a poll recently. Its survey found out that about 58 percent of Americans said they would get vaccinated if an FDA-approved vaccine was available and if it was given at little or no cost.
Fauci said he expects positive ratings for the vaccine to go up in the coming weeks and months, as a positive public perception for the vaccine is critical to help rid the nation of the virus so that people can resume normal life again.
As expected, experts say the vaccine would not be available to everyone at first. That priority would be given to healthcare workers, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions.
Slaoui said that while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would issue guidance to all states regarding the distribution of the vaccine to priority groups, the final responsibility would rest on the states on how the vaccine is distributed at the local level.