KEY POINTS

  • States are being asked to prepare to distribute the first COVID-19 vaccine by as soon as late October
  • Once approved, the vaccine will first go to healthcare workers, national security personnel, and nursing home residents and staff
  • It appears there might be two vaccine candidates targeted for distribution in the fall

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent a heads-up to all 50 states to prepare to distribute a potential COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps starting as soon as late October.

CDC also provided planning scenarios to help states prepare for the distribution once a vaccine is approved. It's disseminated the needed information to leading public health officials in all 50 states and five large cities.

“For the purpose of initial planning, CDC provided states with certain planning assumptions as they work on state specific plans for vaccine distribution, including possibly having limited quantities of vaccines in October and November,” said a CDC spokeswoman to Reuters.

CDC seems to be preparing for one or two vaccines to be available in limited quantities. The first to be inoculated free of charge with the new vaccines will be healthcare workers, national security personnel, and nursing home residents and staff.

Reports suggest the candidate vaccine is either the investigational vaccine mRNA-1273 being developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), or the BNT162b2 vaccine candidate from Pfizer-BioNTech.

There are three firms currently in phase three clinical trials: Moderna-NIAID, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford with its ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. These firms are being funded by the federal government through its Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked states to expedite the approval of permits for medical and pharmaceutical supplies company McKesson Pharmaceuticals to help distribute any vaccine. McKesson is the leading healthcare company for pharmaceutical distribution and wholesale medical supplies and equipment.

On Wednesday, Dr. Redfield confirmed the CDC is preparing for one or more vaccines to be available before the end of the year.

"Right now I will say we're preparing earnestly for what I anticipate will be reality ... that there'll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December -- and we have to figure out how to make sure they're distributed in a fair and equitable way across the country," Redfield said.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, recently said it's possible the FDA might authorize an investigational COVID-19 vaccine before Phase 3 trials involving more than 30,000 persons worldwide are complete, if data shows the vaccine to be safe and effective.

Hahn's suggestion has drawn widespread criticism from the medical community, which sees the development as another effort by Hahn to boost the reelection chances for President Donald Trump.

Hahn was criticized Monday by Dr. Eric Topol, Medscape Editor-in-Chief, for overstating progress in vaccines and treatments to allegedly help Trump before the November election. Topol asks Hahn to set the record straight or resign as FDA commissioner.

"Otherwise, you need to resign, "demanded Topol.  "We cannot entrust the health of 330 million Americans to a person who is subservient to President Trump's whims, unprecedented promotion of unproven therapies, outrageous lies, and political motivations."

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is asking US states to remove barriers to distributing a coronavirus vaccine Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is asking US states to remove barriers to distributing a coronavirus vaccine Photo: POOL / Al Drago