Biden coronavirus adviser ‘concerned’ about military planning to distribute vaccine

CBS This Morning

A public health expert whom President-elect Biden named to his coronavirus advisory board said Tuesday that he is “concerned” about military plans to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have to understand that Operation Warp Speed has been a remarkable effort in terms of bringing vaccines forward. I give them great credit for that. But there still are huge challenges in how to distribute it,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said on “CBS This Morning.”

“Remember, this vaccine has to be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit … we don’t have refrigeration operations like that out here and there have been very few resources provided to states and local health departments to go beyond the initial planning,” Osterholm added. “We at the public health world out here are concerned about the planning the military is bringing forward touted by many as the answer, when in fact in many cases we’re concerned it’s part of the problem.”

Osterholm’s comments come a day after Pfizer and German firm BioNTech announced that its vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the coronavirus in late-stage clinical trials. Pfizer did not receive Operation Warp Speed funding for research and development, but it did receive roughly $2 billion from the Trump administration program to purchase doses of the vaccine.

Osterholm also warned on Tuesday that even as vaccines are developed and potentially distributed, the resurgence of the virus and “pandemic fatigue” present a major risk to public health.

“We have a perfect storm coming together. We have pandemic fatigue, people who were distancing themselves from others for months who just decided, you know, I’m kind of done with it,” Osterholm added.

The Hill has reached out to Osterholm for further comment.

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