The head adviser of the White House vaccination program, Moncef Slaoui, said that it was “extremely unlikely but not impossible” that a vaccine would be available by the end of October in the United States.
In an interview with NPR, Dr. Slaoui, one of the two heads of Operation Warp Speed, explained that the advice and guidance sent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the states to prepare for a vaccine as early as possible at the end of October was “the right thing to do” in case a vaccine is ready at that time.
“It would be irresponsible not to be ready if that were to happen,” he said, noting that there was a “very, very small” chance that a vaccine would be ready before the November 3 election.
Dr. Slaoui confirmed that the two main candidates, called the A and B vaccines, were being developed by Pfizer and Moderna. He clarified that there was “no intention” to introduce a vaccine before the end of the clinical trials and that the trials would not be completed until the vaccine’s efficacy had been confirmed by an independent safety monitoring board, separate from the government.
Despite continuing to express doubts regarding whether a vaccine would be ready by the end of October, Dr. Slaoui said, “I am firmly convinced that we will have a vaccine available before the end of the year and that it will be available in quantities that will allow us to vaccinate the patients and subjects most at risk,” including the elderly and those in jobs with high exposure to the virus.
He estimated that there would be enough vaccine by the end of the year to vaccinate “probably between 20 and 25 million people,”. He added that manufacturing would be accelerated so that there would be enough vaccine to vaccinate the U.S. population “by the middle of 2021.