On Friday, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supported White House expectations that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by the end of this year.
During an interview with Reuters, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn was asked whether it was realistic for the White House to say that 20 million people would receive a COVID 19 vaccine before the end of 2020.
” In light of what we know about the supply of vaccines, I think that is realistic,” Hahn said. “It will depend very much on the vaccination campaign and the final decision of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Department of Health and Human Resources on the allocation.
The question asked Hahn was based on an expected vaccination plan presented by the White House in November.
In his first public appearance since his defeat in the presidential election, President Donald Trump spoke about the COVID 19 vaccine and said “millions of doses will soon be walking out the door.
Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific advisor to the Trump government’s Operation Warp Speed program, explained the vaccination plan during the November press conference. “We plan to have enough doses of vaccine available for use in the U.S. population to vaccinate about 20 million people in December,” he said, “and from then on another 25 to 30 million per month on an ongoing basis.
Hahn’s comments come as two COVID-19 vaccines are currently awaiting emergency FDA approval after the results of human trials of the vaccines were promising.
A vaccine developed by Moderna filed for emergency approval with the FDA on November 30. If approved, the Americans could receive the vaccine by December 21. In early November, Moderna announced the results of its human trials, which showed that the vaccine is approximately 94.5 percent effective against the virus.
Another vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech also submitted its application for emergency use on November 20, after preliminary results showed an efficacy of 90 percent. On Wednesday, Pfizer’s vaccine received emergency marketing authorization from the UK Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
During his interview with Reuters, Hahn was also asked if he felt pressured by the White House and Trump to speed up the process of getting a vaccine approved for the general population.
“I feel pressure from the urgency of the situation and the thought that we have a significant pandemic in this country,” Hahn replied. “That is where the pressure comes from, and I fully understand, including from the President, the administration, Capitol Hill, the American public, that we need to act quickly.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, there are currently more than 14 million confirmed cases of the novel virus in the United States and at least 276,513 deaths.
Washington Newsday was referred to the comments Hahn made during the interview after he contacted the FDA.