The head of the coronavirus vaccine effort in the United States has confirmed that he plans to meet with President-elect Joe Biden this week to discuss the distribution of the long-awaited inoculant.
Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to the US government’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, in an interview on Sunday said he had yet to meet Biden.
“We can’t wait to be there because in fact things have been really well planned,” Slaoui told CBS News.
“I think the plans are there and I’m confident that once we explain it, everything in detail. I hope the new transition team will understand that things are well planned, ”he said.
The statement comes after Biden said on Friday that his transition team had not seen a detailed description from the Trump administration of how it plans to distribute vaccines, which he called an expensive and difficult process.
“There isn’t a detailed plan we’ve seen, anyway, of how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into someone’s arm,” Biden said.
The statements come as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in the United States, a spike that officials say was likely worsened by Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings on November 26. The United States recorded nearly 214,000 cases on Saturday and 2,554 deaths, according to Johns Data from Hopkins University. To date, more than 13.4 million cases have been confirmed in the country, with an estimated 281,000 deaths.
More than 100,000 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States, according to the COVID Tracking Project, with many states warning their health systems could soon reach a breaking point.
Several areas of California have preventively imposed stay-at-home orders to ease the stress of health care. These orders will be needed when regional hospitals reach 85% of the capacity of their intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
Meanwhile, states like Idaho and Tennessee have deployed their national guards to help ease pressure on healthcare workers.
‘These are myths’
First responders, healthcare workers and nursing home residents will be the first groups to receive the vaccine after it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This approval is expected as early as next week, with external FDA advisers due to meet on Thursday to review Pfizer’s request for emergency use of its vaccine.
Slaoui said the second group of people to receive the vaccine will likely include key workers such as postal workers in February and March, and then the general population will follow.
Speaking on Sunday, Slaoui said those most susceptible could feel the effects of the new vaccine in January or February.
“But on a demographic basis, to get our life back to normal, we are talking about April or May,” he added.
The promising vaccine developments have warned health officials that an inoculant won’t do much to change the trajectory of the current outbreak, which comes as the United States enters its colder months.
Instead, they continued to encourage social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding travel and gatherings during the holiday season.
“This is what will help us the most to overcome this situation,” Health Secretary Alex Azar told ABC News on Sunday. “We have these vaccines coming up. There is so much hope ahead, we just want to make sure everyone benefits. “
Meanwhile, Dr Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told NBC on Sunday that she was worried that people were “parrying” misinformation about masks and other precautions. mitigation measures released by the Trump administration.
“Our job is to constantly say these are myths,” she said. “They are wrong.”