Vice President Mike Pence told governors on Monday that distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could begin by the third week of December, signaling that U.S. regulators will swiftly approve an emergency authorization for the first shots.
“We strongly believe the vaccine distribution process could begin the week of December 14,” Pence told governors, according to a summary of the call provided by the office of Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “The American people deserve to know the cavalry is on the way.”
Pence told governors they will have the final say on vaccine distribution as the “ultimate arbiters” in their states, according to the summary.
Moderna Inc. joined Pfizer Inc. on Monday in requesting the FDA issue an emergency use authorization for its shot. Both vaccines are better than 90% effective, according to preliminary results of clinical trials, though their distribution challenges include requiring two shots.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also participated in the call.
An FDA advisory panel is scheduled to meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the vaccines. Azar told governors that distribution could begin within 24 hours of regulatory approval, while Pence said the administration believes that will be the week of the 14th. Vaccines will be largely administered by pharmacies such as those owned by CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Azar said.
Reprinted with Permission from Bloomberg Government by Josh Wingrove and Dina Bass