UPDATE at 6:57 am PT – Wednesday November 25, 2020
The Department of Health and Human Services has announced major plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines ahead of many applicants being authorized for emergency use.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar and his team said on Tuesday they expected nearly 6.5 million doses to be distributed to Americans. Health officials have advised sending early doses to vulnerable populations and frontline workers before going to the general public.
“This amount we allocated to the country was 6.4 million doses of vaccine,” said General Gustave Perna, COO of Operation Warp Speed. “Then what if there are more available after the initial push, then it will be released in subsequent weekly distribution rates accordingly… 40 million by the end of the year.”
During this time, Regeneron has started sending 30,000 doses of its treatment. The biotech company plans to distribute another 50,000 by next week and 300,000 by early January. Regeneron’s antibody cocktail is the same treatment President Trump underwent when he was diagnosed with coronavirus in October.
Other companies, including Pfizer and Moderna, expect to get their vaccines approved soon to join Regeneron in the fight against the virus.
“We have said that we expect to have enough vaccines by the end of December to vaccinate those who are most vulnerable just by sizing and scaling up,” Secretary Azar said. “That by the end of January, we believe we will have enough to vaccinate our seniors as well as our healthcare workers and first responders.”
Meanwhile, the federal government is giving state governors the “final say” on who gets early access to vaccines. State officials are expected to send HHS an estimate of the number of doses they need by Friday.