If Pfizer Inc sends the positive initial data from its COVID-19 vaccine study to health officials as soon as expected, the U.S. government plans to start vaccinating Americans in December, Health Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday.
Pfizer said Monday that the vaccine it developed with German partner BioNTech SE was 90% effective against COVID-19, based on an early look at the results of its large, late-stage study.
The US drug maker expects to have safety data by next week, which it will need to request from the US Food and Drug Administration in order to apply for an emergency authorization (EUA).
Once approved by the FDA, the United States would receive approximately 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine per month, Azar said on a call with reporters, noting that HHS could procure supplies later this month.
The United States has signed a $ 1.95 billion deal for 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough to vaccinate 50 million people – with the option to purchase an additional 500 million.
Earlier on Tuesday, Azar said on CNBC that the final decisions will be subject to scrutiny of data on the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Based on recommendations to the government, it is likely to begin vaccinating elderly people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, healthcare workers, and first responders, with the aim of completing these admissions by the end of January.
Leading U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci also said in an interview with MSNBC that he expects doses of the vaccine to be available in December for certain high-priority groups.
Azar said he anticipates there will soon be more vaccines to protect against COVID-19 from other companies, including Moderna Inc.
“By late March, early April, we expect enough for every American who wants to be vaccinated,” Azar told CBNC.
ANTIBODY DRUG DISTRIBUTION
Azar also said the U.S. government will begin distributing antibody treatment from Eli Lilly and Co this week, initially in areas with the highest numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and in all cases.
The treatment, which will be given by infusion, received an EEA on Monday.
“We will ensure fair distribution and work closely with our governors,” said Azar. He said the government will use the same process to distribute Remdesivir, an antiviral drug made by Gilead Sciences Inc that is used to treat people hospitalized with COVID-19.
According to the Health and Human Services website, the agency will ship more than 79,000 doses of the antibody therapy this week, with the largest number going to Wisconsin, Texas, California and Illinois.
The United States has purchased 300,000 doses of the treatment for this year and has an option to purchase an additional 650,000 doses next year.
Azar said health officials and Eli Lilly were looking for ways to offer treatment outside of hospitals, including through outpatient infusion centers.
Fauci described the Lilly treatment as “an important first step in the development and distribution of interventions that are given early in the disease process”.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)