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U.S. to immunize 100 million against COVID-19 by end of March

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Posted: Monday, December 14, 2020. 4:01 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The United States has only just started using the approved COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech today, Monday.

But chief adviser for the national vaccine program Dr Moncef Slaoui says that if all goes well, some 100 million, about a third of the national population, would have been immunized in another three months – by the end of March 2021, Reuters reports via Yahoo News.

Dr Slaoui told Fox News’ Sunday morning program that some 40 million doses of vaccine will be distributed by the end of December, shared between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the latter of which should be authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this week.

Another 50 million to 80 million doses will be distributed in January, and the same number in February, Slaoui said. The vaccine requires two shots per person. As elsewhere, front line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities would be first in line.

It is estimated that up to 4/5ths of the population would need the vaccine to achieve herd immunity and halt the virus, which has infected millions and killed close to 300 thousand, but America would reach that point only by May or June and critically, if most Americans decided to accept and take the vaccine.

He said he hoped people will keep an open mind, “listen to the data and openly agree that this is a very effective and safe vaccine and therefore take it.”

In a large clinical trial, the Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective in preventing illness with few serious side effects.

Slaoui downplayed suggestions that there might not be enough vaccine to go around. He noted that a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is likely to be ready for authorization late in January or early in February, and that he expected AstraZeneca’s vaccine to be “potentially approvable somewhere late in February.”

He also criticized the political pressure laid on by outgoing President Donald Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows, the latter of whom even reportedly threatened FDA head Stephen Hahn’s job. Dr Slaoui called the interventions “useless and unfortunate” and “not helpful, because it’s not needed.”

 

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