For a COVID-19 vaccine that the world wants yesterday, tomorrow could not come soon enough as federal health officials share how rapidly it will be distributed.
Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of President Donald Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, told reporters Wednesday that each state would have access to vaccine doses within 24 hours of Food and Drug Administration authorization.
“Every jurisdiction will have access immediately upon the initial push of the vaccine,” Perna said, adding that distribution would be equitable but did not provide numbers. He said weekly distributions would follow the initial push and that the government can deliver the vaccine at the necessary minus-100 degrees temperature.
“It is the partnerships we have formed with the pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna, distribution companies like McKesson, FedEx, and UPS, and pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens that have agreed to do things differently,” Perna said.
About 40 million doses, which would vaccinate 20 million people, are expected to be available by the end of December, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. The U.S. faces 1 million new COVID-19 cases per week and has totaled more than 250,000 deaths because of the virus.
The Perna call followed Pfizer’s announcement that its vaccine stage-three trials showed 95% efficacy and that it would pursue emergency authorization with the FDA in the coming weeks. Two days earlier, Moderna announced an early trial was 94.5% effective for its vaccine.
“Six months ago, the capacity did not exist in our nation’s pharmaceutical production base. We went to work building brick-and-mortar manufacturing facilities, bringing in the right specialized machinery, and prioritizing supply-chain materials through the Defense Production Act.”
Maybe warp speed is possible in something other than “Star Wars.”