Incoming CDC director expects 500,000 coronavirus deaths by mid-February
Trump adviser says people could be vaccinated against COVID-19 within 48 hours of FDA approval
The chief adviser to the White House's COVID-19 vaccine development team, Operation Warp Speed, said on Sunday that people could begin receiving vaccinations as soon as 48 hours after a candidate is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"We are ready to start shipping vaccines within 24 hours from approval. Ship them to the sites that each state that are located - a quantity of vaccine that's proportional to their population tells us where to deliver the vaccine. We'll have the vaccines there the next day after approval, and hopefully people will start to be immunized, I would say within 48 hours from the approval," said Moncef Slaoui on ABC's "This Week."
Pfizer recently asked the FDA for emergency approval of its vaccine candidate and Moderna is expected to file its application by the end of the month.
People in high-risk groups and frontline medical workers are expected to receive the vaccine first before it is widely available.
Host George Stephanopoulos asked Slaoui on Sunday for his thoughts on some people's hesitation to take the vaccine, a sentiment shared even among medical professionals.
"I'm very, very concerned about the hesitancy as it exists and I think it's very unfortunate, because this has been exacerbated by the political context, under which we have worked very hard with the companies and thousands of people that have been involved to make these vaccines available," said Slaoui. "The vaccines have been developed as thoroughly and as scientifically, as ever. I've been doing this for more than 30 years, this vaccine development is not different than any other, except that we have incredibly fast speed with incredible resources."
Stephanopoulos also questioned Slaoui on President Trump's claims that Pfizer purposely delayed releasing the promising results of testing for its vaccine candidate after the election. Trump's campaign had hoped to use the announcement of a vaccine as another push to gain support from voters.
Slaoui stated that the White House had a slightly different relationship with each pharmaceutical company. While officials worked with Moderna on most aspects of their vaccine, he says the White House's partnership with Pfizer was "more of an arm's length relationship," though he appeared to defend Pfizer's vaccine timeline.
"I do think that asking for 60 days follow-up after completion of immunization to ensure that we understand the short term, and the predictable, long-term safety of the vaccine is an appropriate decision and I understand that that's what drove the timelines of Pfizer so as far as I know. I don't think any specific action has taken place to delay the vaccine," said Slaoui.