WCVB.com By Jamie Gumbrecht and Maggie Fox Thurs., Sept. 03/20
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials around the United States to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October. It also provided planning scenarios to help states prepare.
The documents were posted by The New York Times and the CDC confirmed to CNN it has sent them to city and state public health officials.
The scenarios offer details about distribution for two COVID-19 vaccines when supplies “may be constrained.” The documents prioritize particular populations for the vaccines, including health care professionals, essential workers, long-term care facility residents and staff and national security populations.
The director of the National Institutes for Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said it’s “unlikely” that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready by October.
“But I defend the CDC in their effort to try to be sure people are prepared,” Collins said to CNN.
“This is like the Boy Scout motto, ‘Be Prepared,’” Collins said. “Even if it’s very low likelihood, if everything happened to come together really beautifully and we had an answer by then and we knew we had a vaccine that was safe and effective, wouldn’t you want people to be ready to figure out how to do the distribution? That’s all that CDC is saying.”
“Now keep in mind that the likelihood of that is pretty low,” Collins added.
CNN reported last week that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked states to speed through permits for medical and pharmaceutical supplies company McKesson to help distribute any eventual coronavirus vaccine. In a letter, Redfield asked them to waive any requirements that might get in the way of distributing vaccines by Nov. 1 — before Election Day — and weeks, if not months, before most experts expect any vaccine to be fully tested.
The scenario documents do not necessarily mean a vaccine will be available by late October. Pandemic planning exercises have for years included recommendations that the federal government ready a distribution network while scientists work on a vaccine.
Trump administration has said it’s doing this. Companies developing the vaccines are already ramping up manufacturing so that, in case one or more is found safe and effective in people, it could start going into arms immediately.
“The COVID-19 vaccine landscape is evolving and uncertain, and these scenarios may evolve as more information is available,” one of the scenario documents advises.