Former FDA commissioner suggests 'dual strategy' to expedite COVID-19 vaccinations

Tim O'Donnell

While experts are urging patience with the slower-than-expected United States vaccine rollout, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Sunday suggested a logistical fix that could help speed things up.

Appearing on CBS News' Face the Nation, Gottlieb told host Margaret Brennan he thinks the U.S. should allow public health departments to focus on getting the vaccine to hard-to-reach, vulnerable communities while simultaneously making the shots available to the wider population — with priority based on age — through retail pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. "You're not gonna see the long lines," he said. "They're gonna have a scheduling system in place, and it's gonna be a more orderly distribution."

Meanwhile, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed's chief science adviser, also appeared on Face the Nation, telling Brennan he isn't keen on following the United Kingdom's lead by spreading out the time between the first and second doses of the vaccines as a method for getting more people inoculated at a faster rate, since evidence is lacking. But he did say that "we know" Moderna's vaccine induces an "identical immune response" when given at half the dosage that is currently being administered. If that change is eventually allowed by the FDA, two shots would still be required, but it would still save enough of the vaccine to expedite the process.

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