A top Trump administration official said Wednesday that doses of a covid-19 vaccine would be transported to locations nationwide within 24 hours after federal regulators approve its safety and effectiveness.
As soon as the Food and Drug Administration has given a green light for a vaccine, “we will have vaccines moving to administration sites, within 24 hours,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, who oversees logistics for Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s effort to fast-track development of coronavirus countermeasures.
Ostrowski, with the Defense Department, and officials from the Department of Health and Human Services spoke at a briefing for reporters about two documents that were released Wednesday and outlined the federal government’s plan to distribute covid-19 vaccines. Officials sent a report to Congress and an accompanying operational “playbook” to states and localities that lay out detailed planning for vaccine availability and distribution.
Operation Warp Speed, which includes partnerships among the Defense and HHS departments and the private sector, has been working for months on multiple vaccine distribution scenarios because of uncertainty over the timing of FDA approval, different dosage requirements of the vaccine candidates and different storage requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials in all 50 states and the U.S. territories to have plans ready to distribute a vaccine to health-care workers and other high-priority groups as early as Nov. 1.
A top HHS official also clarified the role of the Defense Department.
“For the overwhelming majority of Americans, no federal official will touch a dose of vaccine before it’s injected into Americans,” said Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at HHS. Mango said officials are also working to ensure that “no American has to pay a single dime out of pocket to get a vaccine, and we’re getting very close to that aspiration right now.”