America’s vaccine czar on Sunday said he thinks Americans could begin getting immunized from COVID-19 in about three weeks and that the country could reach herd immunity by next spring.
Moncef Slaoui, who oversees vaccine development for the White House, said on CNN that once a vaccine is approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all 50 states will be able to begin immunizations.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe on Day Two after approval,” Slaoui said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “On the 11th or the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states.”
In an exchange with host Jake Tapper, Slaoui said if things go as expected, the country can reach herd immunity by May 2021, which means the population can be protected from the virus after a threshold of vaccination is reached.
“You’ve said you plan to vaccinate 20 million people in the month of December in the United States and up to another 30 million per month after that. How many Americans need to be vaccinated for life to be able to return to normal, and when might that happen?” Tapper asked.
“So, normally, with the level of efficacy we have — 95% — 70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place,” Slaoui said. “That is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that based on our plans.”
Slaoui also said he’s hopeful that Americans will take the vaccine.
“I really hope and look forward to seeing that the level of negative perception of the vaccine decreases and people’s acceptance increases, that’s going to be critical to help us,” he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said he doesn’t trust a vaccine that comes during President Trump’s term.
“You are going to say to the American people now, ‘Here’s a vaccine, it was new, it was done quickly, but trust this federal administration, their health administration that it’s safe, and we’re not 100% sure of the consequences,’ I think it’s going to be a very skeptical American public about taking the vaccine, and they should be,” the Democrat said last month.
And just last week, Cuomo said the new vaccines came about two months early.
“We can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way the Trump administration is designing it because Biden can’t undo it two months later, we’ll be in the midst of it,” he said. “I’ve been talking to governors across the nation about that. How can we shape the Trump administration vaccine plan to fix it or stop it before it does damage.”
Pfizer on Nov. 9 said results from its most recent human trials on its coronavirus vaccine show it is more than 90% effective, but on Tuesday, they said the vaccine is 95% effective. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday that once their vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it will be shipped quickly to locations in the U.S.
And a new vaccine from drug maker Moderna — developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed — is also nearly 95% effective, but does not have to be kept at sub-zero temperatures like the Pfizer version, the company said Monday. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said 20 million doses will be available by the end of the year, Fox News reported.
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