News and Commentary

CDC Director Reveals When First COVID-19 Vaccine Will Be Available In The U.S.

"Probably by the end of the second week in December."
Close-up of doctors hands holding Covid-19 vaccine and syringe
Tetra Images/Getty Images

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine will begin to become available in the U.S. “probably by the end of the second week in December.”

CDC Director Robert Redfield, appearing on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing,” said that a vaccine would at first be distributed “in a hierarchical way” with priority going to “nursing home residents and then some combination of health care providers and individuals at high risk for a poor outcome.”

On Monday, AstraZeneca and Oxford University said their jointly created COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be up to 90% effective and easier to distribute than another potential vaccine, which must be kept at sub-zero temperatures.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” said Oxford University professor Andrew Pollard, who served as the lead investigator for the drug’s trials. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”

Two other drug makers in recent weeks have also announced successful tests of COVID-19 vaccines.

A new Moderna vaccine that was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed is nearly 95% effective, according to the company.

“The analysis evaluated 95 confirmed Covid-19 infections among the trial’s 30,000 participants,” CNBC reported earlier this month. “Moderna, which developed its vaccine in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said 90 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 5 cases observed in the group that received its two-dose vaccine. That resulted in an estimated vaccine efficacy of 94.5%.”

And the pharmaceutical company Pfizer said on Nov. 9 that its developmental vaccine for COVID-19 may be 90% effective at inoculating people against the disease. The rate of effectiveness was calculated by analyzing early data from 94 trial participants in a study involving 43,538 subjects from all over the world.

“Overall, if both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are approved by the FDA,  the U.S. could have as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available by the end of the year,” Fox reported. “[T]he government could have access to more than 1 billion doses from the two vaccine makers alone by 2021.”

But the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper than both of the others. “AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government,” The Associated Press reported.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has scheduled a Dec. 10 meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to discuss Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its vaccine candidate.

Related: Third Major COVID-19 Vaccine Up To 90% Effective, Trial Results Show

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