Health officials could inoculate the entire U.S. population against the Chinese virus by June, Moncef Slaoui, the chief science advisor for President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, declared Tuesday.
There should also be enough doses produced by the U.S. and other countries participating in the global race for a vaccine to inoculate the rest of the nearly 8 billion and growing people across the world by early to mid-2022, Slaoui added in a Livestream interview with the Washington Post Tuesday.
“I would hope by early 2022, or middle 2022 most of the world will have been immunized,” Slaoui proclaimed.
If enough U.S. residents get immunized, America “should have this pandemic under control in the second half of 2021,” Trump’s vaccine chief said.
Still, Slaoui acknowledged, “While we’re all very excited to have these vaccines coming out, it’s going to take a while before the whole population gets immunized.”
The news came as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a panel of independent experts from across the country, met Tuesday to issue guidance to states.
The panel voted 13-1 to advise states that roughly 21 million health-care employees and three million residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should get the shot first when U.S. regulators approve a vaccine.
Although considered influential, the committee’s recommendations are toothless, and states will reportedly ultimately decide whether to follow them.
Echoing the CDC, Slaoui said there would be an estimated 40 million doses available by the end of the year, enough for roughly 20 million U.S. residents since both vaccines require two doses per person.
Health officials say that doesn’t guarantee all 20 million individuals will be vaccinated by the end of the year,” the Miami Herald pointed out in an article about the CDC panel’s decision, referring to the 40 million figure. “After initial doses are administered, the agency expects 5-10 million doses to be given each week.”
That is “a big number” of doses to produce, but it’s “a small number compared to the U.S. population [of 330 million and growing] and the need we have,” Slaoui told the Post, referring to the 40 million.
Referring to Slaoui’s comments to the Post, CNBC reported:
Slaoui said Moderna and Pfizer will likely supply between 60 million and 70 million doses by January, which would be enough for at least 30 million people since each one takes two rounds of doses, he said. After January, other vaccines could be added to that mix if authorized by the FDA, adding an additional 30 million and 50 million doses from other companies, he said.
“Very quickly, we’ll start having more than 150 million doses a month in March, April, May,” Slaoui added.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged the globe would need a lot more doses to vaccinate the rest of the estimated 8 billion people worldwide and ultimately achieve herd immunity.
On top of the doses the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed could produce by 2022, other countries participating in the global race for a vaccine could make up the difference, Slaoui reportedly said.
As of November 12, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), a United Nations entity, was tracking nearly 50 vaccine candidates in a clinical trial and over 160 in preclinical evaluation.
“That I think is reassuring because between that and the other vaccines being developed, I would hope by early 2022 or middle 2022, most of the world will have been immunized,” Slaoui said.
In the meantime, the top health U.S. official urged people to continue following public health guidance like wearing face coverings, good hygiene, and maintaining physical distance from others.
To the dismay of critics who believe the FDA should move faster, the agency indicated this week that it will wait about three weeks to approve the two candidates that have now applied for emergency authorization — Pfizer and Moderna.
Under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, a multibillion-dollar effort to develop vaccines in record time, the federal government has joined forces with six pharmaceutical companies, including four in the final clinical trials phase.
The four are BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, and Johnson and Johnson.
Currently, there are no vaccines against coronaviruses in humans.
Any coronavirus shot must be at least 50 percent effective to receive authorization, according to the FDA.
Most experts had reportedly hoped for the coronavirus vaccine to be 70 percent or higher.
The two leading candidates that already requested FDA approval — Pfizer (95 percent) and Moderna (94.1)— exceeded those expectations.