The federal government plans to being distributing a vaccine within 24 hours of approval by the Food and Drug administration, Trump administration health officials said Wednesday.
In an 11-page briefing from the departments of Health and Human Services and Defense and a 57-page “playbook” from the Center for Disease Control, federal officials outlined a plan to deploy an eventual vaccine, relying in part on the pharmaceutical distribution company McKesson. The vaccine, which is expected to require two shots delivered two or three weeks apart, would be free or very low cost, officials said.
Conflicting timelines. There is no approved vaccine as yet, and health officials provided different estimates for when to expect one.
Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday that he believed that a vaccine would be approved by the end of the year, enabling all Americans to be vaccinated by the end of March 2021.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said the process would likely take longer. "I think there will be vaccine that will initially be available some time between November and December, but very limited supply, and it will have to be prioritized," Redfield said at the Senate hearing. “If you're asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we're probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”
President Trump said Tuesday that a vaccine may be ready “within weeks,” and he claimed Wednesday that Redfield’s timeline was mistaken. "Under no circumstances will it be as late as the doctor said," Trump said.
Distribution plan draws criticism. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said the federal plan was incomplete. “It’s clear that this is still not the kind of comprehensive, end-to-end national plan I’ve called for and that we desperately need," she said. “We are still missing important details on research and review, like what standards FDA will use to authorize a vaccine for emergency use … how we make sure disparities are addressed in clinical trials, and manufacturing, like how we address supply chain issues and avoid bottlenecks. And we still need more details on addressing disparities.”