Some Americans could “hopefully” receive the vaccine for COVID-19 as soon as December 11 or 12, Moncef Slaoui, the chief science advisor of the White House’s vaccine effort, “Operation Warp Speed,” said Sunday.
Slaoui, who was tapped to head the White House effort to develop a vaccine earlier this year, told CNN’s Jake Tapper during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he and his colleagues hoped to ship the vaccine to immunization sites within 24 hours of receiving approval to do so by the Food and Drug Administration.
A panel of outside experts that advises the FDA is expected to meet on December 10 to discuss Pfizer’s application for an emergency use authorization. It’s not clear how quickly FDA would act on the panel’s recommendation. Clinical trials showed that Pfizer’s vaccine was 95% effective in preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the company said.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe a day or two after approval,” Slaoui said on Sunday. “On the 11 or 12 of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States.”
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Slaoui had previously said he expected to immunize 20 million people in the month of December and as many as 30 million additional people could receive a vaccine each following month.
Slaoui, a former executive at GlaxoSmithKline and board member at biotech company Moderna, said he expected that children would be able to receive the vaccine by the middle of next year, and said there needed to be “expedited” trials before the vaccine became available to children.
He also said on Sunday that he anticipated life for Americans could return to normal as early as May.
“Normally, with the level of efficacy we have — 95% — 70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place,” Slaoui said. “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 the level of the negative perception of the vaccine decrease and people’s acceptance increases. That’s going to be critical”
As Business Insider’s Hillary Brueck previously reported, most people in the US will not likely receive a vaccine this year, as a rollout is likely to prioritize high-priority individuals, including frontline healthcare workers, essential workers, people over 65, and people with preexisting conditions.
Slaoui said Sunday during an appearance on “Meet the Press” that the federal government is likely to create recommendations for who is first to receive the vaccine, but he added the decision will likely be left to state governments.
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