The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to be ready to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine by November 1, according to new reports.
In a letter to state governors and health officials last week, CDC director Robert Redfield said that Texas- based McKesson Corporation would soon be requesting permits to build distribution sites and instructed governors to consider waiving requirements that would slow the construction or opening of the sites, The Hill reported.
“The normal time required to obtain these permits presents a significant barrier to the success of this urgent public health program,” Redfield wrote. “CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020.”
Every state and U.S. territory, along with New York City, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and San Antonio last week received documents which included plans for distributing two possible unnamed vaccines that would require two doses to be administered a few weeks apart, the New York Times reported.
The documents said essential workers, national security officials, seniors and members of particularly vulnerable racial and ethnic groups would receive priority in receiving the vaccination, according to the Times.
In light of some health experts’ warnings that a vaccine likely would not be developed and approved before year’s end, critics have accused President Trump of rushing the vaccine for political gain, as the November 1 date is two days before the presidential election.
Likewise, the president has accused federal officials of slowing the process to damage his campaign for a second term.
But while Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly said that it is likely a vaccine would be ready between the end of 2020 and the first half of 2021, he appeared optimistic that a vaccine would be ready sooner rather than later in an interview with NBC’s Today on Wednesday.
“I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year that we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci said.
Several vaccines are in phrase three trials as part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of coronavirus vaccines and treatments.
The U.S. has recorded over 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, more than any other country in the world, and at least 184,914 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.