Feds say COVID-19 vaccine ready to be deployed at ‘warp speed’

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Federal officials believe they will distribute the first 6 million doses in less than three weeks, 40 million doses by the end of the year.

BUFFALO, New York – Between the rising numbers of coronavirus cases, the impending closures of businesses and schools, and the curtailment of traditional holiday celebrations, there is much to worry about these days.

For many, hope is in the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine soon.

On that front, encouraging news came from the nation’s capital on Tuesday.

“Hope and Help is on the way,” said US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, when HHS and the Department of Defense provided an update on progress on Operation Warp Speed ​​and the eventual distribution of vaccines nationwide.

Although not approved yet, the head of the US effort to produce a vaccine for the Coronavirus recently said that the first immunization could take place on December 12.

On Tuesday, General Gustav Perna, part of Operation Warp Speed, confirmed that federal officials believe they will be able to distribute 40 million doses by the end of the year. He said they hoped to distribute 6.8 million doses to states in the initial batch within 24 hours of emergency use permission.

Four days ago, Pfizer formally requested US regulators to allow the COVID-19 vaccine to be used in emergency situations, and the watch began a process that could bring in limited first shots as early as next month.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced that their vaccine appears to be 95% effective in preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.

Not far from Moderna Inc.’s rival COVID-19 vaccine. Its early data suggests the shots are as powerful as Pfizer, and that company also expects to seek emergency permission within weeks.

Minister Alex Azar said they hope to vaccinate the “most vulnerable” Americans by the end of December, then move to the elderly and first responders by the end of January.

General Berna added, “Our cornerstone is the CDC. These experts know how to distribute vaccines and they do it annually. We were able to take all the lessons learned and apply them in a plan.”

Azar expects that any person in the general population who wants a vaccine for the Coronavirus will be able to obtain it during the second quarter (April to June) of 2021.

“Of course, the rulers will determine the distribution within their states, the priorities within the states, and where the shipping is to take place,” Azar said, noting that the federal government bears the full cost of this massive endeavor.

In New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo insisted that he wanted his select panel of experts to review the vaccine because he did not trust the Trump administration.

Amid concern that this could delay the arrival of vaccines here, Cuomo recently said that the review by New York State shouldn’t take long.

Renowned immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci called the state review unnecessary during an interview with Washington PostHe urged the governor to “trust the process because the process is sound.”

“The Food and Drug Administration will not make a breakthrough on this,” said Dr. Sanjay Sethi of the University of Buffalo Medical School. “The FDA will not approve anything if it has concerns.”

Health officials acknowledge that there may be reluctance among some members of the public to take up a vaccine (something that usually takes several years to develop), which was implemented as part of Operation Warp Speed ​​in less than one year.

But they also note that it may be the most carefully studied vaccine in history.

“I’ll be the first to get it when they tell me I can,” said Sethi. “Will there still be side effects, or could side effects occur that could occur to 1 in 100,000 people? Yes. But I prefer to take this opportunity versus the chance to catch and spread COVID. For me, it’s a very easy decision. Take the vaccine.” .

Perna also addressed the challenges surrounding distributing the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept in a very cold temperature of about minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit). He explained that Pfizer has developed a container with dry ice that can keep the vaccine at the right temperature for up to 20 days.

Meanwhile, another pharmaceutical company, Vaxart, says its plan is to come up with a vaccine that will be in pill or tablet form, and the tablets can be stored at room temperature. However, this vaccine is still in an early beta phase.

Berna also confirmed that she is working on finding ways to remind those who receive a primary coronavirus vaccine that they need to get a second dose. Some of the plans under consideration include physical vaccine cards and state and nationwide “sophisticated automated plans” to send reminders to people.

Azar also confirmed that the HHS transitional official is now in contact with the Joe Biden team to ensure a smooth transition to the new administration.

“We immediately get them all pre-prepared transitional materials,” Azar said, noting that his agency is cooperating fully with Biden’s transition team.

“We will ensure coordinated briefings with them to ensure that they have any information they believe they will need that is consistent with previous statutes and practices. Transition planning and implementation will be professional, collaborative and collaborative in the spirit of better researching the health and well-being of the American people and in particular saving lives through the COVID-19 pandemic.” .

This story includes reports from the Associated Press

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