Trump govt to distribute Covid-19 vaccine to states two days before election
London, Sep. 3, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked the nation’s state governors to be ready for COVID-19 vaccine distribution by November 1, two days before the presidential election.
The alert is contained in an Aug. 27 letter sent to the governors by the CDC Director, Dr Robert Redfield, according to local media reports.
Among other things, Redfield wants the states to “do everything in their power’’ to remove obstacles that would prevent vaccine distribution sites from opening by the proposed date
Some observers are reading political meaning into the move as the proposed date comes just two days before President Donald Trump stands for re-election on Nov. 3
However, Bloomberg news quoted an unidentified federal official “familiar with the plans’’ as saying the Nov. 1 date was for planning only, and not to influence the presidential vote.
Trump faces strong criticisms from opposition figures and even his fellow Republicans over alleged poor handling of the pandemic that has claimed no fewer than 183,000 lives in the country.
The president has been piling pressure on drug companies and regulatory authorities to develop and approve a vaccine for the country before Nov. 3.
In the letter, Redfield urged the governors to fast-track permits and licenses for new distribution
He said CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services “are rapidly making preparations to implement large-scale distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the fall of 2020’’
“CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities, and if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by Nov. 1, 2020.
“The requirements you may be asked to waive in order to expedite vaccine distribution will not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed,” he added.
The Trump administration has already signed multi-billion dollar deals with some drug makers for doses of promising vaccine candidates.
Trump told a news briefing in Washington recently that his administration had put logistics in place for rapid distribution of vaccine as soon as it is ready.
In March, the FDA gave emergency authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 after Trump repeatedly praised its use; the authorization had to be withdrawn in June after serious side effects emerged.
‘Safe and effective’
More recently, Hahn delivered a far too optimistic appraisal, during a news conference with Trump, of the effectiveness of convalescent plasma against the virus.
He said it could save 35 out of 100 patients; the more likely number, experts said, is five in 100.
“This means mass vaccination nationwide could start in 59 days. FIFTY-NINE DAYS. Is any #COVID-19 vaccine likely to have completed Phase 3 safety and efficacy clinical trials, and gone through full scientific and @US_FDA review in 59 days?” award-winning epidemiology writer Laurie Garrett asked on Twitter.
“To my knowledge, none of the US #COVID-19 #vaccines have finished even enrolling test subjects for Phase 3 trials. Rushing this to completion within 59 days is DANGEROUS.”
Hahn, however, has insisted he is not acting under pressure from Trump, arguing that any covid-19 vaccine approval would be a “science, medicine, data decision.”
Top government scientist Anthony Fauci has said on several occasions that a vaccine should be ready between the end of 2020 and the first half of 2021.
“I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year that we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci told NBC.
The US has registered more than six million Covid-19 cases — almost a quarter of the global total — and 185,000 deaths, according to Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.