Story at a glance

  • “If all goes well, we could be distributing a vaccine soon after Dec. 10,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a news briefing Tuesday.
  • More than 6 million doses would be distributed by mid-December.
  • Forty million doses would be distributed by the end of the year.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday announced the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could begin shortly after Dec. 10.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel is set to meet on that date to consider Pfizer’s emergency use authorization application for its COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced their vaccine appeared to be 95 percent effective in late-stage clinical trials. 


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“If all goes well, we could be distributing a vaccine soon after Dec. 10,” Azar said during a news briefing Tuesday. 

“We believe we can distribute vaccine to all 64 jurisdictions within 24 hours of FDA authorization. Then we hope administration could begin as soon as the product arrives. One of the private sector partners we've enlisted, CVS Health, has said that they expect to be vaccinating residents of nursing homes -- one of the top priority groups -- within 48 hours after FDA authorization.” 

General Gustave Perna, who oversees logistics for Operation Warp Speed, said 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will be distributed to states and territories by mid-December, with a goal of 40 million doses distributed by the end of the year. Azar said Operation Warp Speed began conducting test shipments to its network this week to ensure a “seamless logistical operation” once a vaccine receives emergency use approval. 

High-risk groups such as health care workers and nursing home residents are expected to receive the vaccine first, but Azar said it will be left up to each state to determine how they distribute the vaccine. 

“[Governors] will decide whom the vaccine is given to. We hope that our recommendations will carry weight with them, but at the end of the day they will make that decision,” Azar said. 

Officials expect the vaccine will be made available to the general public by the second quarter of next year. 


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Published on Nov 24, 2020