The U.S. government plans to ship a coronavirus vaccine to U.S.-wide distribution sites within 24 hours of the Food and Drug Administration issuing an emergency permit or approval, senior officials said Wednesday.
The government will use medical supply company McKesson as its main distributor for the vaccine, Paul Ostrowski, who oversees logistics for the Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed, said during a press release with reporters. “We are moving [the vaccine] as soon as possible within a day or so. “
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined a comprehensive plan Wednesday to make Covid-19 vaccines available to all Americans free of charge. In the plan, the CDC said it is expected that a coronavirus vaccine will initially receive an emergency use approval before a full formal approval.
Much of that guidance, but not all, described in the plan will overlap many routine activities for vaccinations and pandemic influenza planning, said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield on the same call.
Redfield said the plan will be updated as new information becomes available, including the use of the Covid-1
When larger amounts of vaccine become available, the CDC said there will be two simultaneous goals: to provide broad access to vaccination and ensure high uptake in target populations, especially those at high risk of death or complications from Covid-19.
“The CDC’s goal is to have enough Covid-19 vaccine for everyone in the United States who wants to be vaccinated,” Redfield said.
Earlier this month, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a draft proposal for the distribution of a vaccine in the United States, if and when one is approved for public use. The report was requested by the National Institutes of Health and the CDC.
The vaccine would be divided into four phases, with health workers, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions first vaccinated according to the group. Significant workers, teachers and people in homeless shelters as well as people in prisons would be next on the list, followed by children and young adults.
The comments came a day after President Donald Trump said a coronavirus vaccine could be three or four weeks away, a much more optimistic estimate than from his own health officials. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert in infectious diseases, has said it is “conceivable” but unlikely that the United States will have a safe and effective vaccine by October.
The CEO of Pfizer, one of the frontrunners over a vaccine, said Sunday that a vaccine could be distributed to Americans before the end of the year.
CEO Albert Bourla told CBS ‘”Face the Nation” that the company should have key data from its trial with the FDA in late October. If the FDA approves the vaccine, the company is ready to distribute “hundreds of thousands of doses,” he said.
There may be more vaccines from different manufacturers that are approved and available, the CDC said in its plan Wednesday. Many of the vaccines will require two doses and different intervals to come from the same drug manufacturer.
If necessary, the government’s McKesson contract could cover rapid distribution of vaccine doses to be kept at cold temperatures, the CDC said. Some of the vaccines under development need to be stored at very low temperatures, officials have warned. Pfizer’s vaccine, for example, requires freezers that can store it at approx. 94 degrees below zero.
The US government will determine the amount of vaccine designated for each state or region. States will then be responsible for administering and approving orders from registered providers within their jurisdiction using this allocation, the CDC said. Supplies, such as needles and syringes, are automatically ordered in quantities corresponding to vaccine orders.
Americans will not be charged for the vaccine or its distribution, the CDC said. In addition, various plans supported by the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act are under development to ensure that no Americans will be charged for administering the vaccine, the agency said.