US: 20M Could Be Vaccinated This Year, 100M by Late February
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expects to move quickly after a Dec. 10 review of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and 20 million Americans could be vaccinated this year, its commissioner said on Friday.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn declined to give a specific timeline of how long approval of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech would take, but said that he hoped there would be a decision by the regulator in December.
As soon as the FDA approves a vaccine, "I will be first in line and I will encourage my family to take this vaccine," Hahn told Reuters in an interview.
He also said that he had a "robust discussion" at a White House meeting with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to discuss the timing of a vaccine.
Many federal officials are expecting a vaccine approval within days of the Dec. 10 meeting, though one FDA official recently said an approval decision could take weeks.
Hahn said he had not spoken to Joe Biden.
"They have not been in touch with me," Hahn said, saying that discussions about vaccine distribution were being handled by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Meanwhile, a leader of the vaccination-expediting program known as Operation Warp Speed offered even more elaborate projections, according to a report in the New York Post.
If vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna soon get emergency approvals that are expected, 20 million of the most vulnerable Americans could get shots by the end of 2020, said Moncef Slaoui, the operation’s scientific adviser.
Another 30 million could get shots in January, and 50 million more in February — and those figures could be higher still, providing other promising vaccine candidates get similar expedited OKs, he predicted in speaking with Agence France-Presse.
Operation Warp Speed has struck deals with several drugmakers in an effort to help speed up the search for effective treatments to fight the global pandemic.
Britain leapt ahead of the United States this week in approving Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, intensifying scrutiny on U.S. regulators as they consider whether to grant emergency use in the country that leads the world in coronavirus infections.
Biden has selected two former Obama administration officials to senior roles to help fight COVID-19, including the appointment of Jeff Zients as White House coronavirus coordinator, Politico reported on Thursday.
Dealing with the virus that has killed more than 276,000 Americans as well as the economic fallout from the crisis is one of Biden's top priorities once he takes office on Jan. 20.
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