US officials on Monday revealed a rapid rollout plan for Covid-19 vaccine even as the country witnessed record surge in the novel coronavirus cases and hospitalisations. The officials unveiled details for the swift distribution of vaccines to millions of Americans.
The chief adviser of Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program said on Tuesday that 20 million people could be vaccinated by the end of 2020, and that by the middle of 2021 most Americans will have access to highly effective vaccines, Reuters reported.
“Within 24 hours, maybe at most 36 to 48 hours, from the approval, the vaccine can be in people’s arms,” Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive, was quoted by Reuters as saying at an event conducted by The Washington Post.
Slaoui further said that the Operation Warp Speed, charged with accelerating development in Covid-19 treatments and vaccines, could help provide the US with 60 million to 70 million doses per month by January, with vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc.
Meanwhile, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel of outside advisers will meet on December 10 to discuss whether to recommend that the FDA authorise emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine.
Advisers will consider the Moderna candidate a week later, officials said. Other pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson also have vaccines in the works.
Moreover, the US Transportation Department said on Tuesday it has made preparations to enable the “immediate mass shipment” of Covid-19 vaccines and completed all necessary regulatory measures.
First in line for vaccinations could be about 21 million healthcare workers and 3 million residents in long-term care facilities, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said.
A CDC advisory panel is due to vote on Tuesday afternoon on recommendations for which Americans should get the vaccine first.
The CDC will take the panel’s recommendation into account and then provide guidance to the states to assist governors in their decisions about vaccine distribution priorities.
The rampant coronavirus infected 4.36 million more people in November, more than doubling the previous month, a Reuters report said.
However, a large numbers of Americans still seem to refuse to wear masks and plan holiday gatherings against the recommendations of health experts.
CORONAVIRUS SURGE IN US: A FAMLIAR PATTERN
In the meantime, leading health officials are rigorously appealing to Americans to follow their recommendations to help contain the pandemic that has already killed more than 37,000 people in the US in November alone.
A record of nearly 96,000 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally.
As the cases spike, officials are concerned about the strain on healthcare systems and overworked providers with hospitalisation. They also fear spike in number of deaths after millions traveled for Thanksgiving last week and with the Christmas holiday season fast approaching.
US Covid-19 deaths are projected to nearly double in December to a pandemic-high of more than 70,000 and climb further to more than 76,000 in January before ebbing in February, according to a widely cited model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The monthly US record of 58,740 deaths was set in April.
A bipartisan group of US senators and members of the House of Representatives proposed a $908 billion relief bill that would fund measures through March 31.
US nursing homes are experiencing the worst outbreak of weekly coronavirus cases since the spring, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), a group representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the country.
(With inputs from Reuters)