The elected President of Joe Biden’s Covid Advisory Board, Dr. Atul Gawande told CNBC that the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine was “a Herculean operation” with potential problems on the way as Pfizer’s Covid vaccine had just taken a big step towards FDA emergency approval.
“The biggest challenge will be to get the production going and then get it into the arms of the people,” said Gawande. “The whole chain to get it out on that truck, but then the whole chain to get it to hospitals.”
One group of scientists recommended that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks with a 17 to 4 vote during the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee meeting Thursday evening. The FDA will now give the final OK for the emergency clearance, which can be in either a few hours or a few days. As soon as this happens, however, the rollout shifts into high gear.
According to Operation Warp Speed, it will take 24 hours of prep crates of the vaccines to be loaded into trucks and 2.9 million doses to be delivered to 636 distribution locations across the country. Hospitals will get it first, then government institutions and pharmacy distribution centers, and finally health clinics and drug stores.
Mark Levine, chairman of the NYC Council Health Committee, told WNBC that the first recipients of the vaccine will likely be next Wednesday or Thursday.
Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar estimated that 20 million Americans could be “vaccinated” by the end of December and an additional 50 million could be “vaccinated” by the end of January. He added that “we expect a total of 100 million vaccinations by the end of February”.
Former FDA commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan stressed that Congress will play a huge role in the efficient distribution of Covid vaccines.
“Congress is considering another bill to aid vaccine distribution, test and help businesses affected by this recent surge,” McClellan said in a Thursday night interview on “The News with Shepard Smith” when the distribution gets better, they help us reduce the surge faster in cases, and that means a much faster recovery, a return to normal and a return to normal business operations. “
Gawande noted that the federal government will also play a key role in spreading the vaccine in less populated areas across the country.
“Rural hospitals in smaller settings, these come in packages of 975 doses, and these need to go to places where larger distributions are possible. We need to work to get them to the rural areas as soon as possible, and I hope that the [Trump] The administration is ready to do this soon, “said Gawande.
The vaccine news comes after the United States suffered its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, killing more than 3,000 Americans. More than 21,000 Americans have died this month alone, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
Gawande said that while the vaccine’s effectiveness makes him hopeful, it doesn’t mean Americans can automatically go back to “normal” and people can immediately stop wearing masks.
“What we do know is that the vaccine prevents people from getting symptoms and that’s great if you have the vaccine, but we don’t know that it stops you from having an asymptomatic infection that could infect others “said Gawande. “People receiving the vaccine will still have to wear a mask and that will be a challenge to convince them that they need to keep doing this for the good of others.”