Nearly three people will be vaccinated during the first rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in the US.
During a press briefing of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed on Wednesday, officials said 636 locations, mostly large health-care systems with enough storage capacity, will be receiving the jabs.
According to chief operating officer Gen Gustave Perna, the initial shipment will include 2.9 million doses with the same amount 21 days later for the second dose.
That leaves aside a reserve of about 500,000 doses from the total supply of about 6.4 million doses currently available to the US.
He added that at least 36 states have told Operation Warp Speed they want a fraction of their first doses to go to long-term care facilities through the partnership program made between the administration and CVS/Walgreens/
Perna also told reporters that distribution of the immunization will begin ‘within 24 hours’ of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Pfizer Inc’s first shipment of its vaccine to the US will include 2.9 million doses and another shipment 21 days later with the same amount, Operation Warp Speed chief operating officer Gen Gustave Perna said on Wednesday
The jabs will be going to 636 locations, mostly large health-care systems with enough storage capacity. Pictured: The Operation Warp Speed team during a briefing on Wednesday
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said he’d be willing to get vaccinated publicly to show Americans his ‘supreme confidence’ in the vaccine approval process. Pictured: A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Northern General Hospital, in Bristol, UK, December 8
At the same briefing, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said any American who wants a vaccine will be able to receive on by the second quarter of 2021.
Azar said he expects 20 million Americans by the end of this year, 50 million total by the end of January and 100 million by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Despite the fact that vaccines are likely just around the corner, Azar encouraged Americans to continue following mitigation measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.
‘Even as we have such a bright future ahead, we face extremely concerning trends in the spread of the virus,’ he said.
‘Hospitalization rates are now at the highest they have been during the pandemic. We are so close to being able to protect millions of Americans from this virus with the vaccine. For now, we need to double down on the steps that can keep us all safe.’
At the briefing, Azar also said he’d be willing to get the first Covid-19 vaccine authorized by the FDA.
‘Just to demonstrate to the American people my supreme confidence in the integrity of the [approval] process, the quality of the vaccines, and that I wouldn’t ask the American people to do something i wouldn’t be willing to do myself,’ he said.
The Operation Warp Speed team said it was so focused on speedily getting out the vaccine that it had not even considered who would receive the very first vaccine.
‘We have been referring the governors…we probably do need to, make a plan for, who’s going to get it first visibly,’ said Perna.
‘We’re all going to be available, if it’s appropriate, at the time to receive the shot. We’re all comfortable getting on TV, et cetera.’
It comes just hours after the UK Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency warned anyone with a history of serious allergic reactions to not receive the vaccine after two British healthcare workers went into anaphylactic shock on Tuesday.
The two workers both carry EpiPens but no other information has been given. They are now both said to be recovering well.
At the briefing Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui said the FDA will consider this event as it decides whether or not to approve the vaccine for emergency use authorization.
‘The expectation will be that subjects with known severe allergic reactions should not take the vaccine, until we understand exactly what happened here,’ he said.
Additionally, it comes on the same day Canada became just the second country in the world to approve Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, and may start immunizing residents as early as next week.
On Wednesday, the country’s health regulator, Health Canada, posted on its website that it had authorized the jab after a two-month independent review on safety and efficacy.
Canada is set to receive up to 249,000 doses this month – enough to vaccinate 124,500 people – and four million doses by March 2021.
Currently, only Canadians above age 16 are allowed to receive the vaccine. Once Pfizer releases more data from its ongoing clinical trials, it may be approved for use in children.
Frontline healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff members will be the first in the country to be given the immunization.