U.S. will ship vaccine for 20 million Americans by the end of the year, U.S. health secretary says

By the end of December, there will be enough COVID-19 vaccines to protect 20 million of the most vulnerable Americans, with a similar number available every month after that, federal officials announced Wednesday.

The team’s announcement provided new details and timelines for the distribution program designed to safeguard the country from the deadly pandemic.

Vaccines will be distributed throughout the U.S. within 24 hours of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “emergency use authorization,” said senior officials with Operation Warp Speed, the code for the federal vaccine effort. The officials work for the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services.

Manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna have reported this week that their vaccines prevent 95% of cases of the disease. Company officials say they plan to apply to the USDA for an emergency use authorization “within days.”

Video: Operation Warp Speed chief on vaccine rollout

Here’s what the federal officials said about the vaccine distribution:

It’ll be free

“We’ve paid for the vaccines. We’ve worked to ensure that administration costs will be covered by private insurers and the federal government through Medicare, Medicaid and our program to cover COVID-19 costs for the uninsured. No American will face an out-of-pocket cost for getting a COVID-19 vaccine.”

  • Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar

Every state will get a population-based supply

“Distribution of the vaccine will be based on fair and equitable availability of the vaccine pro rata to the population – in other words, the population of the state against the available vaccine.

  • Army General Gustave F. Perna, Chief Operating Officer, Operation Warp Speed

Distribution will start within one day of the FDA’s go ahead, followed by weekly shipments

“We will begin distribution of the vaccine within 24 hours after emergency use authorization is approved… Distribution will go to all 64 jurisdictions (state, local and territorial public health agencies). Then we will begin a weekly cadence of delivery of the vaccine… to ensure that we rapidly expand the availability to the entire country, simultaneously.

“We are going to execute the plans that the jurisdictions have established, once they figure out the priority and where they want it to go.”

  • Army General Perna

McKesson Corp. and Pfizer are responsible for shipping the vaccine to where it needs to go

“The federal government will use the contract we have with McKesson, one of the world’s leading distributors of pharmaceutical and medical products, as well as a direct arrangement with Pfizer to ship the product from manufacturing sites to where the jurisdictions decide it needs to go.”

  • HHS Secretary Azar

More than half of the nation’s pharmacies and “pharmacy networks,” like grocery stores, will have access

“Last week, we reached nationwide agreements to allow administration of the vaccine by pharmacy chains and networks of independent pharmacies that cover more than 60% of the pharmacies across the country. The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.”

  • HHS Secretary Azar

Elder care facilities say they’re ready for shipments

“Already 99% of skilled nursing facilities across the country have signed up, and 100% of facilities in 20 states are signed up.”

  • HHS Secretary Azar

We’re practicing how to distribute it

“We’re doing numerous tabletop exercises, now extended it into actual rehearsals, of how to move the product, from manufacturing sites to distribution centers, down to actual administration sites.

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) published a playbook back in September, and the jurisdictions have been going through the playbook… to make sure that every detail is covered.”

  • Army General Perna

It’ll go all over

“All of America must receive vaccine within 24 hours. It is incredibly important to have fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine throughout the country simultaneously, so there is no ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’

  • Army General Perna

But the federal government needs to see three things from the states

“First, we must have the jurisdictions create good solid (doctor, pharmacist and facility) enrollment… Second, we must have the states go through and sign ‘data use agreements’… to see who got their dose, where they got their dose and what vaccine did they receive… The third thing is for the jurisdictions to work on their actual rehearsals in the execution of the plan… down at the tactical level.”

Some vaccines require ultra-cold refrigeration. That is tricky, but not a deal-breaker

“We know where all the ultra-cold storage refrigeration is in the country. We asked the jurisdictions months ago for this data, so they went and tracked it down. They also were provided with resources on how to go buy more refrigeration if they wanted to, to increase the distribution capability.

Many states don’t require additional refrigeration. They have enough, or they can supplement it with dry ice. My message is: don’t be afraid of the refrigeration requirement. The capability exists.”

  • Army General Perna

There isn’t yet any long-term vaccine safety data. But if there were big problems, we would have seen them already. And after we’re immunized, health authorities will track us

“We’ve seen that over 90% of side effects occur within the 40 days after completing the immunization schedule… For the overwhelming majority of potential side effects, we will understand the performance.”

  • Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed

Who gets which vaccine, if they’re both available?

“Take the vaccine that’s available, would be my personal recommendation… We are in the fortunate position at this stage that the two vaccines have almost identical performance.”

  • Dr. Moncef Slaoui

There are more vaccines in the pipeline

“We have two more vaccines that are recruiting for Phase 3 trials, with about 11,000 subjects recruited in one and about 8,000 subjects in the other… The two vaccines will be giving us data on their efficacy in the weeks to come.”

  • Dr. Moncef Slaoui

 

Source: mercurynews
U.S. will ship vaccine for 20 million Americans by the end of the year, U.S. health secretary says