WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine says the first immunizations could happen on Dec. 12.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is set to meet Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer Inc.’s request for an emergency use authorization for its developing COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the Operation Warp Speed, the coronavirus vaccine program, says plans are to ship vaccines to states within 24 hours of expected FDA approval.
Slaoui told CNN’s Jake Tapper he expects vaccinations would begin on the second day after approval, Dec. 12.
“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,” Slaoui told CNN Sunday. The highest priority groups, which includes the elderly and health care workers, will get the first available vaccines.
Slaoui added that the government will conduct vaccine trials on younger adolescents, and then toddlers, on an “an expedited basis” in the coming months.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced that the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.
Pfizer formally asked U.S. regulators Friday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine.
The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete. In addition to the FDA submission, they have already started “rolling” applications in Europe and the U.K. and intend to submit similar information soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.