The Trump administration is pushing all states to work “urgently” to eliminate hurdles so that COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites can be up and running by Nov. 1.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sent a letter last week to all governors making the urgent request, according to McClatchy.
“The Aug. 27 letter, obtained by McClatchy, asked governors to fast-track permits and licenses for new distribution sites. ‘The normal time required to obtain these permits presents a significant barrier to the success of this urgent public health program,'” Redfield wrote.
“CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities, and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020.”
“The requirements you may be asked to waive in order to expedite vaccine distribution will not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed,” he added.
The new report came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, expressed optimism about quickly making a safe and effective vaccine.
Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said clinical trials that are now underway in the last phase of developing a vaccine could be halted early if they prove to work.
The doctor said that an independent board composed of research experts that will review clinical trial data could decide “the data is so good right now that you can say it’s safe and effective.” Scientists, he said, would have a “moral obligation” to stop the trial early and move into production of a vaccine if the results are clear that it works.
“If you are making a decision about the vaccine, you’d better be sure you have very good evidence that it is both safe and effective,” Fauci said. He added that he is “not concerned about political pressure.”
Fauci also said data about any vaccine should be made public. “The only time you get concerned is if there is any pressure to terminate the trial before you have enough data on safety and efficacy,” he said.
The world’s largest COVID-19 vaccine study in the world began last month, with the first of 30,000 Americans volunteering to take the shots. The experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Moderna Inc., is in phase three of the development process, which includes tests at clinical sites across the country.
“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement. “The launch of this phase-3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”
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