Vaccine deadlines, the latest controversy within the Trump administration

Washington DC, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- Deadlines for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine have become the latest controversy within the United States government with President Donald Trump promising on Wednesday that he will distribute 100 million doses before the end of the year eve as one of his most prominent experts said that won’t be possible until 2021.

“We’ll be able to distribute at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and a large number much sooner than that,” Trump said in a press briefing at the White House.

His remarks contradict those made by Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield, who told a Senate panel on Wednesday that the vaccine may be available between November and December but in limited quantities for those at high risk of death from COVID-19.

Redfield said that vaccine was likely to be widely available to the American public by the “late second quarter, third quarter (of) 2021.”

When asked about the timeline given by Redfield for the vaccine, Trump responded that the expert “made a mistake when he said that.”

“I called him, and I said, ‘What did you mean by that?’ And I think he just made a mistake. He just made a mistake. I think he misunderstood the question, probably,” the US president said.

“We’re ready to go as soon as the vaccine happens,” he added.

The previous day Trump had said that the vaccine could be ready in “four weeks” and on Wednesday he claimed it could ready be in “October, sometime in October or November. I don’t think it’s going to be much later than that.”

To be distributed to the American public, any vaccine must be endorsed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that is responsible for approving the use of new drugs, vaccines, and other public health-related products.

Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca already have in Phase 3 trials of the vaccine underway they but have not yet submitted their product to the FDA for examination.

Distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States will begin within 24 hours once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certifies a formula as safe and effective, Paul Ostrowski, the deputy chief of supply, production and distribution for the Trump administration’s push to obtain a coronavirus vaccine in the shortest possible time.

“Our goal in Operation Warp Speed is that 24 hours after (a green light from the FDA) we have vaccine moving to administration sites,” Ostrowski told reporters on a conference call.

Operation Warp Speed involves private companies and a number of government agencies, including the Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), whose deputy chief of staff for policy, Paul Mango, was also on the call with journalists.

“We’re dealing in a world of great uncertainty. We don’t know the timing of when we’ll have a vaccine, we don’t know the quantities, we don’t know the efficacy of those vaccines,” Mango said.

“So this is a really, quite extraordinary, logistically complex undertaking,” he said, though adding that “we are prepared for all of those uncertainties.”

While some people may have to pay up to $3.50 to get the shot, “we’re working on” making the vaccine available to all Americans free of charge, Mango said.

Mango and Ostrowski held the news briefing in conjunction with the release by HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of “From the Factory to the Frontlines: The Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine,” a provisional blueprint for getting the drug to Americans.

On earlier occasions, President Donald Trump has suggested that a vaccine may be ready ahead of the Nov. 3 election, in which he is seeking a second term against his Democrat rival, Joe Biden.

In recent days, Trump has been severely criticized for his handling of the epidemic following revelations from “Rage” the new book by acclaimed journalist Bob Woodward, best known for his reporting on the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post.

In the book, Woodward reveals that the president knew about the severity of the virus since late January and that, in fact, his national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, warned him that “this will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.”

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