In a Senate hearing on the government’s response to the pandemic, CDC Director Robert Redfield endorsed President Trump’s often-stated argument that a safe and effective vaccine will be available in November or December, perhaps just before the seven-day presidential election. weeks away.
But Redfield said the vaccine will be provided first to people most vulnerable to covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and stocks will increase over time, so Americans who have a lower priority for protection will be offered the shot more gradually. In order for it to be “fully available to the American public, then let̵
While any vaccinated individual should benefit, he said, the progressive expansion of its availability means there will be a time lag between when a vaccine is approved and when it could have a measurable effect in controlling the pandemic. It could be six to nine months after the day it was approved by federal drug regulators, Redfield predicted.
He said the delay reinforces the importance of safety measures, such as keeping an adequate distance, washing hands and wearing masks.
“I might even go as far as to say that this face mask is safer at protecting me from covid than when I take a covid vaccine,” Redfield said, because the vaccine is unlikely to produce the desired immune response in anyone who receives it.
The comments were the most detailed time frame outlined so far by the leader of the government’s main public health agency. They are consistent with the perspective of Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said in an interview this week with Detroit TV station WDIV that relatively small quantities of the vaccine will initially be available.
“It won’t be until we get to 2021 that you have hundreds of millions of doses, and just the logistics, the constraints of vaccinating large numbers of people,” Fauci said. “It will take months to get enough people vaccinated to have an umbrella of immunity on the community so you don’t have to worry about easy transmission.”
Redfield’s prediction came as Trump clung to the prospect of a vaccine as crucial to his prospects for a second term, with low voter approval rates for his handling of the worst public health crisis the country and the world have faced in a century.
“I really believe we are turning the corner,” the president said at a White House press conference last week, “and the vaccines are right here.”
A vaccine is also widely regarded as a cornerstone for Americans to break free from the constraints the pandemic has placed on daily life, from recreational activities such as concerts and movies to workplaces that remain closed.
Internationally, pharmaceutical manufacturers are racing to develop safe and effective vaccines against the virus, which has infected nearly 6.6 million people in the United States and killed nearly 200,000. Vaccine development typically takes years, but researchers are working with unprecedented speed. US researchers in January set the goal of a world-record pace for the development of a coronavirus inoculation within one year to 18 months.
Now, three experimental vaccines have entered the final phase of testing in the United States – giving it to thousands of people to check its effectiveness and if it’s safe – before submitting it for federal approval. There is an ongoing debate over whether the Food and Drug Administration should accelerate the availability of a vaccine by employing the emergency authority it has before going through the formal approval process.
The CDC told states this month that they should be ready to receive a coronavirus vaccine as early as November 1 – two days before the election – raising accusations from critics that the date was politically motivated. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), The subcommittee’s top Democrat, accused the administration of “rampant political interference in scientific decision-making.”
Redfield opposed such suggestions during an appearance Wednesday before a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Human Services, of which the CDC is a member. He said the council to states was based on the pace of science, not electoral considerations. And he said his agency was eager to avoid a recurrence of a problem that emerged during an H1N1 pandemic in 2009 when a vaccine became available and states were not ready to receive and distribute it.
“We don’t want to repeat that hiccup,” Redfield told the senators.
He also said the government does not have an estimated $ 6 billion needed to distribute a coronavirus vaccine. Those funds were proposed in pandemic legislation that Congress did not adopt, amid partisan disputes over how much more help the government should provide to fired workers and a variety of other purposes.
Providing that money, Redfield said, “is as urgent as increasing production facilities.”