The president touted the timeline as evidence of “historic progress.”
President Donald Trump said Friday that there will be enough doses of coronavirus vaccine for every American by April, contradicting administration health officials who have projected the country would not reach that point until mid-2021.
“Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April,” he said at a White House press briefing. Trump earlier in the week said that doses would be broadly available by March.
Trump touted the timeline as evidence of “historic progress,” and said of a vaccine, “we essentially have it — we will be announcing it soon.” Notably, the president did not repeat his familiar prediction that the government would authorize a vaccine by election day, which top government scientists have said would be unlikely.
The Food and Drug Administration has not yet given emergency authorization or approval to any of the coronavirus vaccines now in development. Vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca are now in the final stage of clinical trials in the United States, and the government has pre-purchased hundreds of millions of doses of at least a half-dozen experimental shots.
Asked about comments from the government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, and CDC Director Robert Redfield about vaccines being broadly available mid- to late next year, Trump said, “We think we can beat that number very substantially.”
But it is still unclear which of those available doses will be usable. Experts say it’s unlikely that all the vaccines now in development will prove safe and effective.
AstraZeneca recently paused its end-stage, Phase III trials after a woman who received the shot developed serious side effects. It is still not clear whether her spinal inflammation was related to the shot itself. Trials outside the U.S. have resumed, but the American trial is still on hold.
Moderna has said it can produce 20 million doses by the end of the year. Pfizer has promised 100 million shots worldwide in the same timeframe, but has not disclosed how many would go to the U.S. Executives from both companies have suggested they could have data for emergency use authorization as early as October, although clinical trial blueprints released yesterday by the two firms suggest the first trial data won’t be available then.
CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in August projected that the U.S. would have anywhere from 40 million to 45 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, combined, by late December 2020.
Because the vaccines are two-dose regimens, 40 million doses would be enough to vaccinate 20 million people. It is not clear whether Trump’s promise to have enough vaccine for all 330 million Americans by April means that the government will have enough vaccine to give each person the first of two shots, or the full two-shot vaccination.