Moncef Slaoui, head of a federal vaccine development program, said the first vaccines could be shipped by mid-December.
The head of the U.S. government’s coronavirus vaccination effort has said the first doses of an inoculant will hopefully be delivered by mid-December.
Dr Moncef Slaoui made the comments in an interview with CNN on Sunday, just two days after Pfizer and BioNTech requested emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their coronavirus vaccine. The companies said preliminary trials showed the vaccine appeared to be 95% effective, placing it well above the FDA’s usual threshold for emergency use.
FDA vaccine advisers are reportedly meeting Dec. 8-10 to discuss the approval of vaccines that Pfizer and Moderna say are at least 95 percent effective.
Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to vaccination sites within 24 hours of approval, said Slaoui, who runs the so-called Operation Warp Speed, a federal program that is ramping up production of promising vaccines as they go. of their development.
So I expect maybe the second day after approval on December 11 or 12, he said.
The official spoke just a day after the United States passed the grim milestone of 12 million confirmed cases in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States set another daily record of more than 198,000 newly confirmed cases on Friday, amid a surge across the country as colder months set in.
Health officials have warned that medical systems could be overwhelmed in the coming months and face a more severe crisis than they did in the first outbreak earlier this year.
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have doubled in the United States after dropping in the summer months. More than 83,000 people were hospitalized with the virus on Saturday. To date, at least 255,000 people have died in the United States after contracting COVID-19.
The Texas National Guard on Friday deployed 36 people to El Paso to assist with its overloaded mortuary operations.
Meanwhile, state officials across the United States have increasingly imposed new restrictions on coronaviruses and have warned of travel and gatherings for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Despite the warnings, officials said more than a million travelers were screened at U.S. airports on Friday, just the second time that threshold has been crossed since the start of the pandemic.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s infectious disease expert, expressed concern over the number of travelers on Sunday, telling CBS that people at airports are going to cause us even more problems than today.
Separately, he said that perhaps 20 million people will be able to get vaccinated by the end of the year, and urged people to continue to take precautions against the spread of the virus.
In California, a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time (6 a.m. and 1 p.m. GMT) began on Saturday. Meanwhile, New York City closed schools for 1.1 million students earlier this week and Chicago, the third largest city in the country, has been on a stay-at-home order since Monday.
Presidential transition delayed
Beyond Pfizer and BioNTech, the American company Moderna has also reported a 95% efficacy in phase three clinical trials of its vaccine. Britain’s AstraZeneca, which is developing a vaccine with the University of Oxford, said it expects to have preliminary results by the end of December. This vaccine would be particularly promising for the elderly.
The prospect of one or more safe and effective vaccines has increased pressure on President Donald Trump’s administration to officially begin the transition with President-elect Joe Biden.
Biden was projected as the winner of the election more than two weeks ago, but Trump refused to concede and blocked agency officials from cooperating with Biden’s team, who said they were continuing the transition without critical information from government agencies.
Slaoui and Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert and member of the coronavirus task force, have stressed in recent interviews the need for a smooth presidential transition to ensure rapid vaccine deployment.
Biden, who will take office on Jan.20, warned last week: More people could die if we don’t coordinate.
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