Residents of nursing houses might obtain vaccine by the tip of December, official says.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific advisor to Operation Warp Speed, said on Sunday that residents of long-term care facilities, which account for about 40 percent in some states, are on a surprisingly ambitious schedule for the introduction of the first coronavirus vaccine deaths from the coronavirus first round of vaccination received by mid-January, possibly even by the end of December.
Timing assumes the Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer this week or shortly thereafter. An advisory committee of the agency will meet on Thursday to review the safety and effectiveness data.
If the agency approves the vaccine, distribution could begin as early as later this week, added Dr. Slaoui added. “By the end of January, mortality among the elderly is likely to decline significantly,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.
Barring any unexpected issues with making the vaccine, most Americans at high risk of coronavirus infection should be vaccinated by mid-March and the rest of the population by May or June, he added.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was far more skeptical on Friday, saying there was “no detailed plan for getting the vaccine from a container into a syringe into someone’s arm. ”
Dr. Slaoui said his team expected to meet Mr. Biden’s advisors this week and provide them with details of the vaccine distribution plan.
The UK has already approved the Pfizer vaccine and expects to start immunizing its population this week. Like the FDA, European regulators are still reviewing data on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
A second vaccine manufactured by Moderna has also been submitted to the FDA for emergency approval.
Dr. Slaoui was optimistic about long-term protection from the vaccine. Older people or people with compromised immune systems might need a booster in three to five years, he said, but for most people the vaccine should remain effective for “many, many years”.
However, it is unclear whether those who have been vaccinated can still pass the virus on to others. “The answer to this very important question” should be known by mid-February, he said.
Up to 15 percent of those who receive the recordings experience “significant, non-overwhelming” pain at the injection site that usually goes away after a day or two, said Dr. Slaoui also spoke to CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Vaccines have not yet been tested in children under the age of 12, but Dr. Slaoui said clinical trials in adolescents and young children could produce results by next fall.
Operation Warp Speed was slated to contain 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by December, a number that has since been cut by more than half.
Although clinical trials were completed faster than expected due to high virus transmission in the US, manufacturing issues reduced the expected number of doses available to 40 million.
Dr. Slaoui warned of possible further delays. “This is not a technical problem. These are biological problems, they are extremely complex, ”he said. “There will be little mishaps.”