A CDC panel will vote on who will get the Covid-19 vaccine first as drugmakers release results on clinical trials and apply for authorization.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, scientists and infectious disease experts have been trying to determine who will get immunized first and how those limited first doses will be distributed across the U.S.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Nov. 16 that 40 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be distributed by the end of 2020, enough to inoculate 20 million people since both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines need two shots.
In an interview on CNN, Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House’s coronavirus testing czar, explained that the Trump administration will aim to “immunize for impact.”
“That means immunizing those who are at the highest risk, like those in long-term care facilities, the elderly, minorities. We can absolutely get 80% of the benefit of the vaccine by only immunizing a few percent of the population,” he said, reiterating that the U.S. should have enough doses to inoculate 20 million Americans this year. “The rest of America will get it in the second quarter, third quarter of 2021, but we could maximize our impact right now.”
The states may not need to observe the CDC’s guidance, but it presents a framework to work with and that many states adopt, according to Dr. Karen Landers, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Public Health.
“This guidance will be extremely helpful because it will be science-based, and also will give us the framework to be able to ensure that our guidelines are consistent with what is recommended by support staff,” she said. “The Alabama Department of Public Health will follow those recommendations, and we’ll certainly be following what ACIP recommends in terms of the vaccine administration.”
In August, the CDC has proposed guidelines on distributing a coronavirus vaccine in the US.
The guidelines on distributing a coronavirus vaccine aim to prioritize vulnerable Americans, healthcare workers, and essential personnel. The elderly and people with underlying health conditions will also be prioritized.
The guidelines were presented during a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Its content covers all compensated and uncompensated people working in healthcare settings, including hospitals, home-based care, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, and outpatient centers. According to the CDC, there are between 17 million and 20 million healthcare workers in the US.
Essential personnel accounts for 60 million to 80 million of the population in the US. They are usually in food and agriculture, education, wastewater, transportation, energy, and law enforcement. According to the proposal, they are among the first to get the vaccine.
Moreover, 100 million people with medical conditions and 53 million people over the age of 65 would be given a vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it would only authorize a Covid-19 vaccine that is safe and at least 50% effective.
“We all want a vaccine tomorrow. That’s unrealistic. And we all want a vaccine that’s 100% effective. Again, unrealistic,” said Dr. Stephen Hahn, the agency’s commissioner, during an interview with Dr. Howard Bauchner of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“But we said 50%, and the reason was that we felt that that was a reasonable floor given the pandemic,” Hahn said.