Operation Warp Speed Chief Operating Officer Gen. Gustave Perna said the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive Monday morning to the locations designated by states across the nation.
“The first shipments should arrive Monday morning and extensive coordination will ensure that this occurs,” Perna said during a press conference on Saturday morning, hours after the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for emergency use authorization.
“Make no mistake, distribution has begun,” he said. “Now, boxes are being packed and loaded with vaccine and within the next 24 hours they will move the vaccine from the Pfizer facility to the UPS and FedEx hubs. Then it will go up to the locations nationwide which were identified by the states and the territories.”
Perna said he expects 145 sites to receive the vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday to complete the initial delivery of the Pfizer orders for the vaccine. He said at the sites, the vaccine will marry up with ancillary kits that include needles, syringes, and other supplies necessary to administer the vaccine.
He said he expected to have distributed 40 million doses at the end of the month. He said Operation Warp Speed is also posturing to distribute the Moderna vaccine if it also receives emergency use authorization by the FDA.
Perna praised all those who worked as part of Operation Warp Speed to establish a foundation for distribution.
“It is through the foundation established by the incredible experts of the CDC, the capability of commercial industry including Pfizer, McKesson, FedEx, UPS, Walgreens, CVS, and others, and most importantly, the governors, public health officers, and health care communities, that this plan will succeed,” he said.
“Because of the energy of the whole of America approach, I am 100 percent confident that we will distribute safely this precious commodity, this vaccine needed to defeat the enemy COVID,” he said.
He reminded people that 100,000 Americans have already participated in clinical trials across America and have taken the vaccine.
“They were the true first recipients of the vaccine. They deserve our respect and appreciation. Without them, we could not be here today — true American heroes,” he said.
Comparing it to D-Day as the “beginning of the end” of World War II, he said the job is not yet done.
“We are not done until every American has access to the vaccine, until every American that wants it, receives it,” he said.
Perna hailed the distribution of the vaccine “historic,” and the “greatest public-private partnership in modern times.”
President Donald Trump released a video statement late Friday night, touting the vaccine as a “medical miracle”:
President Trump: “Today our nation has achieved a medical miracle. We have delivered a safe and effective vaccine in just nine months.” https://t.co/CGh0mY8NYi
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) December 12, 2020
He also called the vaccine “very safe” and that it would free for all Americans.
“When the China virus invaded our shores, I promised that we would produce a vaccine in record time before the end of the year. They said it couldn’t be done. But with today’s announcement, we have now achieved that goal,” he added.