COVID-19 vaccine program head Dr Moncef Slaoui said the first Americans to receive a coronavirus vaccine could get it as soon as December 11.
‘Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,’ he said on ‘State of the Union’ with Jake Tapper.
Pfizer submitted an emergency use authorization application to the Food and Drug Administration and a committee there is set to meet on December 10.
Slaoui pinpointed December 11 or December 12 as the first dates vaccines would be available.
Slaoui, who is leading the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, also said he believed life in the US could get back to normal in May.
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Operation Warp Speed head Dr Moncef Slaoui (right) spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper and said he believed on December 11 or 12 the first Americans could get vaccinated – and life could get back to normal by May
Pfizer has asked for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration and the agency is meeting December 10
Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, is photographed talking in the White House Rose Garden on November 13. He said Sunday that while it would be helpful to talk to the incoming Biden administration, he promised the effort isolated from politics
Both Pfizer (left) and Moderna (right) have promising COVID-19 candidates. Pfizer has requested an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, which is meeting on December 10. Slaoui estimated the first vaccines could be given out in the US on December 11 or 12
Tapper had asked how many Americans needed to be vaccinated for that to happen.
Slaoui said with the efficacy shown by the vaccine candidates about ’70 per cent or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place.’
The plan is to have 20 million Americans vaccinated in December and 30 million per month in the months following.
‘That is likely to happen in the month of May or something like that, based on our plans,’ he continued.
‘I really hope and look forward to seeing that the level of negative perception of the vaccine decreases and people’s acceptance increases. That is going to be critical to help us,’ Slaoui added. ‘Most people need to be immunized before we can go back to a normal life.’
Pfizer and also Moderna have promising vaccine candidates and Moderna is also expected to ask the FDA for an emergency use authorization in the coming weeks.
Slaoui indicated he agreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who has said he’d like to be able to speak with officials on President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to ensure a smooth hand-off.
President Donald Trump has, so far, refused to concede the election to Biden, thus preventing the transition from getting started.
‘Of course. Smoothness is what we all aim for,’ Slaoui told Tapper.
Slaoui assured the CNN host, however, that the Operation Warp Speed team has tried to stay away from politics. He made similar statements to NBC’s Chuck Todd on ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday.
‘So, frankly the operation is – has been isolated from, from the administration, from the political environment and the political context. We worked very hard to make sure that’s the case,’ he told Todd.
‘And therefore, all decisions are made, the train is running, whether one administration or the other doesn’t, frankly, make a difference,’ Slaoui continued. ‘I hope there is no disruption in any way.’
Slaoui also said he’d be ‘very happy to’ work with the new administration. He’s been doing the work on a volunteer basis.
There are more than 12 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US
Cases started to spike again in October and have continued to do so in November, prompting some large cities to implement new lockdown restrictions
Slaoui’s predictions come just a day after US health officials agreed on Saturday to allow the emergency use of an experimental medicine that Trump was given when he was sickened last month.
The FDA authorized the use of the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc drug to try to prevent hospitalization and worsening disease from developing in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.
The drug is given as a one-time treatment through an IV. The FDA allowed its use in adults and children 12 and over who weigh at least 88 pounds and who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of age or certain other medical conditions.
Emergency authorization allows use of the drug to start while studies are continuing to establish safety and effectiveness.
Early results suggest the drug may reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression, the FDA said.
Regeneron said that initial doses will be made available to roughly 300,000 patients through a federal government allocation program.
Those patients will not be charged for the drug but may have to pay part of the cost of giving the IV.
Initial supplies will likely be vastly outstripped by demand as the US has surged past 12 million reported cases, with the country facing what health experts say will be a dark winter due to the uncontrolled spread of the virus.
Antibodies are proteins the body makes to target and help eliminate viruses, but it can take weeks for the best ones to form after an infection occurs.
More than 9 million people will lose their unemployment aid at year’s end, when two jobless aid programs are set to expire, unless Congress extends them. Volunteers hand out over 3,000 Thanksgiving meals to those in need at Minnie’s Food Pantry on Saturday in Plano, Texas
Families wait in line over a mile long to receive a Thanksgiving meal from Minnie’s Food Pantry on Saturday in Plano, Texas
Volunteers are seen preparing to hand out food for Thanksgiving to thousands of families in need in Plano, Texax
The drugs are concentrated versions of ones that proved best able to do this in lab and animal tests, and in theory help the body start to fight the virus right away.
The Regeneron drug is a combo of two antibodies to enhance the chances it will prove effective.
There’s no way to know whether the Regeneron drug helped Trump recover; he received a host of treatments and most COVID-19 patients recover on their own.
FDA regulators authorized the Regeneron drug using their emergency powers to quickly speed the availability of experimental drugs and other medical products during public health crises.
In normal times the FDA requires ‘substantial evidence’ to show that a drug is safe and effective, usually through one or more large, rigorously controlled patient studies.
But during public health emergencies the agency can lower those standards and require only that an experimental treatment’s potential benefits outweigh its risks.
The emergency authorization functions like a temporary approval for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. To win full approval, Regeneron will have to submit additional research to fully define the drug’s safety and benefit for patients.
The White House cast the decision as a victory for Trump’s efforts ‘to deliver cutting-edge treatments with highly promising results to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable Americans,’ according to a statement from spokesman Michael Bars.
In addition to the more than 12 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US, there are at least 255,909 deaths.
New viral cases doubled in just three weeks after the previous doubling had taken six weeks.
And as a consequence, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses.
Texas became the first state to hit 1 million cases of the virus earlier this month. Volunteers mark cars as thousands of people line up for the Thomas J. Henry’s annual Turkey Giveaway at the Fairgrounds Field in Robstown, Texas, on Saturday
Volunteers place turkeys in the trunks of cars during the Thomas J. Henry’s annual Turkey Give Away at Fairgrounds Field in Robstown, Texas
Thousands of people line up for the Thomas J. Henry annual Turkey Giveaway at the Fairgrounds Field in Robstown, Texas, on Saturday
Maryland has limited stores and restaurants to 50 per cent capacity. Retailers in most of California are now capped at just 25 per cent and gyms, restaurants and movie theaters are closed to indoor customers.
California has also implemented a curfew. Residents of California are being asked to be back home by 10pm and remain there until 5am. The curfew began Saturday and will end December 21.
Illinois and Washington have limited stores to 25 per cent capacity.
New lockdown restrictions have also limited public and private in-person gatherings.
Health officials have warned Americans to stay home for the holidays and refrain from hosting large Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.
It’s feared that such gatherings will only continue the spread of COVID-19 in America.
Jim O’Sullivan, an economist at TD Securities, has forecast that the US economy won’t grow at all in the final three months of the year — down from his earlier forecast of a 3 per cent annual growth rate in that quarter — and will shrink 2 per cent in the first three months of 2021.
He, like most economists, expects a rebound starting in the second quarter once a vaccine is widely distributed.
O’Sullivan’s forecasts assume that Congress will agree on roughly $1trillion in new stimulus for the economy by early 2021.
Yet so far, there’s no sign of progress toward an agreement. More than 9 million people will lose their unemployment aid at year’s end, when two jobless aid programs are set to expire, unless Congress extends them.
Consumer spending will likely fall further.