From Norm Elrod
(CBS Detroit) – Pfizer announced in November that its COVID-19 vaccine had a 95 percent effectiveness rate after the second dose. Recent documents suggest that recipients might even receive some protection after the first dose. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and could be approved for use in the United States this week. Pfizer’s FDA hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, also announced last month and requiring two shots, shows similar effectiveness. Your FDA hearing is scheduled for next week.
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With two viable vaccines, most of the US population could be vaccinated by the summer. Vaccinations should start this month, according to Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health and human services.
“We’ll vaccinate about 20 million people this month, another 20 to 25 million in January and another 20 to 25 million in February,” he said on CBS this morning. “We are determined to have vaccines available by late spring and midsummer to any American who so wishes.”
Vaccinating 20 million people in December would require 40 million doses. (Again, Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID vaccines require two doses each.) The companies are committed to delivering around 40 million doses total by the end of the year. Many health officials predict that there will be enough doses for the entire US population by June 2021. (For reference, the US population is approximately 330 million people.) These estimates all assume that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved.
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The UK started its vaccination program today. A 90-year-old grandmother received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The start of the US program is imminent. However, many questions remain as to when people can expect to receive doses of the vaccine.
This is what we know.
- The final decision on distribution is left to the state governors, although most follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- The CDC recommends that initial doses be given to approximately 21 million healthcare professionals in the United States and an additional 3 million to long-term care residents and carers.
- According to the CDC, priority workers should also be prioritized after health workers. These 87 million people typically work outside of the home and provide the necessary goods and services, often associated with infrastructure. That’s a wide variety of industries ranging from construction and supply chain support to defense and law enforcement to food and energy.
- Also high on the priority list are the 100 million or so people with underlying health conditions that put them at high risk of suffering or dying from COVID. The immunocompromised, such as those with cancer or HIV, and anyone with lung disease fall into this category.
- Older adults over 65 years of age are another risk group that is prioritized. COVID complications increase in severity with age.
If you don’t fall into one of these categories, you probably won’t have access to a vaccine until spring at the earliest. As mentioned above, states will make specific decisions about distribution.
For example, Maryland divides the distribution into phases. Phase 1A includes healthcare workers, residents and long-term care workers, and first aiders. Phase 1B adds people who have a “significantly higher risk” of developing severe coronavirus disease. Phase 2 is everyone else. The state will receive an initial allotment of 155,000 doses by the end of the year, with a possible 300,000 more. The population of Maryland is just over 6 million people.
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Minnesota expects a total of 183,400 doses of Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the year. The vaccines will be delivered to major hospitals and hubs across the state and will be given with the aim of “protecting the life and health of those who are most susceptible to serious complications and who care for them,” said Governor Tim Walz. Minnesota’s population exceeds 5.6 million people.
New York State is expected to receive 170,000 cans by next week. New York City could receive 480,000 cans by early January. Healthcare and other frontline workers, as well as long-term care residents, get their vaccines first. But the priority is unclear after these people. New York State has a population of nearly 20 million.
All of these state numbers are estimates by the federal government and are subject to change. Pfizer has already lowered its manufacturing targets from 100 million to 50 million by the end of 2020, based on supply chain issues. A report also surfaced yesterday that the Trump administration refused to buy more than the agreed 100 million cans from Pfizer last summer. The decision reportedly allowed other countries better access to doses and could delay receiving additional doses until June 2021.