Nov. 22 (UPI) — The chief adviser of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine development program said Sunday a COVID-19 vaccine could be sent out to states by mid-December.
Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who is in runoff on Jan. 5 to retain her appointed U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, is among the more than 12 million Americans to initially test positive for coronavirus but another test was inconclusive and the PCR results were retested overnight and came back negative.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui told CNN’s State of the Union that a vaccine for the virus could begin being delivered shortly after it receives authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” he said.
U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Friday requested an emergency authorization from the FDA on Friday to begin distributing millions of doses of their vaccine, which the companies say is 95% effective.
Slaoui told NBC News’ Meet the Press that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will determine who will get priority to receive the first doses of the vaccine when it’s initially made available.
“That’s very likely to be maybe healthcare workers, maybe first-line workers, maybe individuals who are at very high risk, elderly, people with comorbidities. We will have already identified with each state and department of health where they want the vaccines to be located,” he said.
The virus has been surging in the United States as the nation reported 177,552 new cases and 1,448 new deaths Saturday, bringing its world-leading totals to 12,104,978 infections and 255,959 fatalities, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
Loeffler, the Republican Senator, has had inconsistent test results.
“Senator Loeffler’s previously inconclusive PCR results were retested overnight and the results thankfully came back negative,” campaign spokesperson Stephen Lawson said in a statement to CNN. But “out of an abundance of caution, will continue to self-isolate and be retested again to hopefully receive consecutive negative test results.”
Lawson said that Loeffler was not exhibiting symptoms.
A spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence said he was awaiting Loeffler’s “confirmatory test” after he campaigned alongside her in Georgia on Friday in her runoff campaign to maintain her seat on the Senate.
“As he awaits a confirmatory test from Senator Loeffler, Vice President Pence is in regular consultation with the White House medical Unit and will be following CDC guidelines as he has in other circumstances when he has been a close contact,” spokesman Devin O’Malley told CNN.
California leads the nation with 1,102,033 cases after adding 14,319 on Sunday and added 33 new deaths for a total of 18,676 — third in the country.
Texas added 8,554 cases on Sunday as it trails closely behind California with 1,094,275 infections, while adding 89 fatalities to bring its death toll to the second highest in the nation at 20,556.
Third place Florida reported 6,586 new cases on Sunday for a total of 938,414, while adding 61 deaths for the nation’s fourth-highest death toll at 18,214.
Illinois ranked fourth in the nation with 656,298 cases after reporting 10,012 new cases on Sunday, also adding 76 new deaths for a total of 11,506 ranking sixth.
New York holds the nation’s highest death toll at 26,357 after adding 30 new deaths on Sunday and added 5,391 cases for the fifth-highest total in the nation at 596,214. The state’s total deaths, including probable ones, is 34,300.