Federal officials have asked four states and one city to make plans for when doses of the Covid-19 vaccine become available, according to a Washington Post report, signalling progress toward an antidote which could be ready as early as fall.
California, Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Philadelphia were reportedly instructed this week by federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to begin planning how they would distribute the vaccine.
They were asked to draw up proposals regarding storage and transportation that will be shared with other states to help with their planning.
These states will also have to prioritize who should get the vaccine first, which will likely be essential workers and front-line healthcare professionals.
Contrary to Trump’s insistence that the military will deliver vaccines to states, a Health and Human Services official clarified the Defense Department will control logistics, while “commercial distribution partners” will make sure states receive doses.
On Friday, the president announced a new partnership medical supplier McKesson, which will play a central role in rapidly distributing the vaccine when it’s ready.
Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, emphasized this week the need to complete plans before October 1 as that’s the soonest the vaccines could be available.
“Frankly, we’re sort of running out of time,” Messonnier said during a Wednesday meeting with state immunization officials and experts. “If the vaccine is going to be available by Oct. 1, which it may be, we need to have plans before then.”
The Trump administration has pushed to have a coronavirus vaccine ready in record time through Operation Warp Speed, aiming to have tens of millions of doses ready by January in a process that usually takes years. President Trump said on Friday that three experimental vaccines are in later-stage trials. Drug manufacturers have already started with clinical trials, testing the potential Covid-19 vaccines on over 30,000 people.
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