Just a day after Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective in clinical trials, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has predicted that there will be enough of the drugmaker’s vaccines ready for general public vaccination by Spring 2021.
During a TODAY show interview on Tuesday, Azar said Pfizer is ramping up to deliver up to 1.3 billion doses of its yet-to-be-approved vaccine in 2021. That would be “enough for all Americans by the end of March to early April to have general vaccination programs,” he said.
Protecting vulnerable populations first
At-risk nursing home residents, health care workers, and first responders would be the first groups to receive the vaccine, Azar said, adding that these individuals could get a vaccine by January.
“We have anticipated that we will have enough vaccine by the end of December to have vaccinated our most vulnerable citizens and nursing homes and otherwise,” Azar said.
After that, health care workers and first responders would get access to the vaccine, and “all Americans who would want to take a vaccine" could get it by the spring, he said.
With temperatures falling and more people gathering indoors, COVID-19 cases are climbing across the nation. The number of confirmed infections in the U.S. recently surpassed 10 million.
On Monday, Pfizer cited data from its clinical trials suggesting that the vaccine could be 90 percent effective. The pharmaceutical giant said it’s aiming to deliver 20 million doses to the government per month starting at the end of November.
Azar’s remarks came the day after Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that vulnerable Americans could start getting the vaccine before the end of the year. Fauci called the reported efficacy rate of Pfizer’s vaccine "extraordinary."