Chief of U.S. Vaccine Initiative Says October Timeline 'Extremely Unlikely'
Slaoui says there is 'no intent' to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine before clinical trials are completed
FRIDAY, Sept. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The chief adviser for the White House vaccine program said Thursday it was "extremely unlikely, but not impossible" that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available by the end of October.
Speaking with National Public Radio, Moncef Slaoui, M.D., said that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to states to prepare for a vaccine as early as late October was "the right thing to do" in case a vaccine was ready by that time. "It would be irresponsible not to be ready if that was the case," Slaoui said, adding that he first heard about the new CDC guidance from media reports, the Washington Post said. Still, Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, described getting a vaccine by late October as a "very, very low chance."
Slaoui did confirm that the two main vaccine candidates, referred to as Vaccine A and Vaccine B by the CDC, were being developed by Pfizer and Moderna, respectively. He added that there was "no intent" to introduce a vaccine before clinical trials were completed. The trials would only be completed when an independent safety monitoring board affirmed the effectiveness of the vaccine, he said.
While expressing doubt about an October timeline, Slaoui believes "that we will have a vaccine available before the end of the year and it will be available in quantities that can immunize patients, subjects at the highest risk." By the end of the year, there should be enough doses of the vaccine ready to immunize "probably between 20 and 25 million people." There should be enough doses to immunize the U.S. population "by the middle of 2021," he added.