Coronavirus

When is the coronavirus vaccine arriving in the US according to Trump?

After Pfizer and BioNTech recorded positive results for their covid-19 vaccinations, President Donald Trump is eager to get them distributed to Americans.

When is the coronavirus vaccine arriving in the US according to Trump?
Erin Schaff GTRES

Two major breakthroughs have given Americans hope of a vaccine before the end of the year after two firms reported extremely promising trial results. Both Pfizer and BioNTech have produced vaccines that have been shown to be over 90% effective at preventing the virus and are now just waiting for FDA approval.

President Trump has been confident about the prospects of a vaccine for months now, initially claiming that vaccines would have been ready ahead of the election on 3 November. They were not quite able to hit that target but Trump told reporters at his Thanksgiving address that they are days away from starting distribution.

The President said: “the vaccines are being delivered, literally it’ll start next week and the week after”.

What needs to happen before the vaccines can be distributed?

After such optimistic trial results the focus of the government’s Operation Warp Speed will now switch to the logistics of distributing the vaccines to hundreds of millions of Americans. The next step, however, is for the vaccine to be granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA.

The EUA is a mechanism that allows vital life-saving medicines to reach those who need it as soon as possible, particularly during a public health emergency like a pandemic. In a statement published after Pfizer and BioNTech had submitted their vaccines for authorisation, the FDA said that would need to “determine that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine.”

How will the covid-19 vaccine be distributed in the US?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have already outlined their process to get the vaccines to the people who are most in need, as quickly as possible. The first to receive the vaccinations will be front line health workers (21 million) and residents in long-term care facilities (3 million). 

The next group will be essential workers who cannot do their jobs from home (87 million). This batch will include firefighters, police, school employees, transportation workers, agricultural workers and food service workers.

The final priority group will be those with medical conditions that put them at particular risk (100 million), along with the over 65s (53 million). Once these groups have been accounted for the plan is for the vaccines to be rolled out to adults nationwide, with the expectation that everyone in America will have had access to the vaccine by late June.

Will the military be used to distribute the vaccine?

Trump’s comments about vaccine distribution came after a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the military, and he has previously suggested that the armed forced would have a role to play in the vaccine effort. In the final presidential debate before the election, Trump said he was “counting on the military” to hep with distribution.

“We have our generals lined up, one in particular that’s the head of logistics. … He’s ready to go,” said the President.

However Operation Warp Speed leader General Gustave Perna clarified the President’s comments a few days later, pointing out that the military involvement would be reserved for logistical and programming support.

“There will not be this vision that some people have that there’ll be Army trucks driving through the streets delivering vaccine,” said Perna, adding that a ‘boots on the ground’ approach would not be “feasible or the right way to do it.”