As the U.S. reported over 6,114,000 novel Coronavirus cases and more than 180,000 fatalities due to COVID-19 till Thursday, September 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked states to be ready to distribute a potential Coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October or November 1.
According to a series of documents, sent to public health officials last week, CDC has notified public health officials in all 50 states and five large cities to prepare to distribute an effective and proven COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers and other high-risk groups.
Letter to State Governors
In a letter to the Governors of the states and health departments, CDC director Robert Redfield asked them to fast-track permits and licenses so that vaccine distribution sites can be up and running by November 1, reported McClatchy.
Redfield wrote in the letter that "the normal time required to obtain these permits presents a significant barrier to the success of this urgent public health program," and added that CDC urgently "requests your assistance" in expediting for the distribution facilities and if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1."
The requests are the latest indication that the race for a Coronavirus vaccine may be picking up speed. There are many vaccine candidates that have already begun phase three clinical trials in the U.S. The federal government has long aimed to have a vaccine ready by January 2021. It also has established an initiative it calls Operation Warp Speed to fast-track the process of developing, manufacturing, and distributing an effective vaccine against the virus.
In an interview with Financial Times, Stephen Hahn, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner said he would be willing to accelerate the vaccine process with emergency use authorization (EUA), before the completion of the phase three trials.
Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump said during his speech to the Republican National Convention that a vaccine might arrive before the end of the year. But, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier said that he is "cautiously optimistic" an effective COVID-19 vaccine that could be ready by the end of the year and distributed in the early months of 2021.
A professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Paul Offit who serves on a panel advising the FDA said last month that the phase three trials had just begun, so the timeline is unrealistic.
However, as per a CDC spokesperson, "At this time, we don't know which vaccines will be approved," but limited vaccine doses may be available by early November 2020, and the "COVID-19 vaccine supply will increase substantially in 2021."
A CDC document has pointed out some hypothetical scenarios for the rollout of up to two unknown vaccines—either individually or simultaneously—starting at the end of October 2020.
Another document, "EARLY COVID - 19 VACCINATION PROGRAM ACTION ITEMS FOR JURISDICTIONS," says that officials must be prepared to vaccinate critical populations immediately and should start planning for immunization of the general population, supply permitting.
There is another CDC document, obtained by the New York Times that consists of assumptions about various elements of a Coronavirus vaccine program, including ordering, data reporting, and public-facing communications. It says that SARS-CoV-2 vaccine program plans must be flexible and accommodate multiple scenarios."
As reported by Yahoo Finance, Redfield said CDC is preparing for a scenario in which there will be one or more Coronavirus vaccines available in November or December this year and will need to be distributed fairly and equitably.