HHS official: ‘We are absolutely on track’ for millions of 'approved' COVID vaccines by year's end
CDC Director Redfield explained that the CDC’s goal is to ensure there are no delays between the FDA authorizing a vaccine and the 'implementation of vaccine programs nationwide.'
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Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency is "absolutely on track” to approve “tens of millions" of coronavirus vaccine doses before end of 2020.
When formally accepting the presidential nomination on Thursday evening, President Trump said a vaccine would be available by the end of the year "or maybe even sooner.”
Mango told reporters that manufacturing is already underway for three of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“We feel we are absolutely on track, if not a little bit ahead, in terms of our overall objective, which is tens of millions of safe and effective vaccines approved before calendar year end,” he said on Friday during a conference call briefing on Operation Warp Speed. “We’re dealing with a very, very complex logistical task when it comes to vaccine distribution.”
Operation Warp Speed “aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021.”
However, Mango was not able to quantify how many doses of safe vaccines would be available for distribution before the end of this year.
“We don’t know exactly how many doses we’re going to have,” he said. "We don’t know at what time you’re going to have those doses as we approach the end of the year. And we don’t know yet in which subpopulations those vaccines are going to be efficacious.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there are several vaccines developing and the that the CDC is focusing on “leveraging” existing systems for vaccine distribution and building on “state and local planning” that is underway around pandemic influenza.
Redfield said prioritization is a major component of the vaccine-distribution process.
“At first, there will likely be a limited supply of one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines. Because limited doses will be available initially, it’s important that the early vaccines are distributed in a fair, ethical and transparent way,” he said.
Redfield said the CDC and groups like the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will eventually make recommendations on which populations should be prioritized for vaccines.
“We need to determine how much vaccine will go to each state and jurisdiction,” he said.
Redfield explained that the CDC’s goal is to ensure there are no delays between the FDA authorizing a vaccine and the “implementation of vaccine programs nationwide.”
Although the process is moving at “warp speed,” Redfield emphasized that any COVID-19 vaccine will be “held to the same standards as other vaccines to make sure they are safe and they are effective.”