States will have final say on how to prioritize who gets the first doses of any coronavirus vaccines, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told reporters on Tuesday. A CDC vaccine advisory committee is set to meet as soon as the FDA authorizes the first vaccine, to determine which groups should get early access to the shot. But governors will have “final say,” Azar said, raising the possibility that Americans could face widely differing distribution plans depending on where they live.
He and other top government officials have said that about 40 million doses of the vaccine will likely be available next month. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have filed for emergency authorization from the FDA, and another developer — Moderna — has said it will soon follow suit. Although public health experts broadly agree that groups at high risk, such as front-line health care workers and the elderly, should be prioritized in any vaccination campaign, there will not be enough doses initially to treat all members of those groups.
Pfizer Vaccine Distribution Could Kick Off Within Weeks Pending FDA Approval
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday announced the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could begin shortly after Dec. 10.A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel is set to meet on that date to consider Pfizer’s emergency use authorization application for its COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced their vaccine appeared to be 95 percent effective in late-stage clinical trials. “If all goes well, we could be distributing a vaccine soon after Dec. 10,” Azar said during a news briefing Tuesday. “We believe we can distribute vaccine to all 64 jurisdictions within 24 hours of FDA authorization. Then we hope administration could begin as soon as the product arrives. One of the private sector partners we’ve enlisted, CVS Health, has said that they expect to be vaccinating residents of nursing homes — one of the top priority groups — within 48 hours after FDA authorization.”
General Gustave Perna, who oversees logistics for Operation Warp Speed, said 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will be distributed to states and territories by mid-December, with a goal of 40 million doses distributed by the end of the year. Azar said Operation Warp Speed began conducting test shipments to its network this week to ensure a “seamless logistical operation” once a vaccine receives emergency use approval.