One or more COVID-19 vaccines could be ready before the end of 2020, based on the progress of ongoing clinical trials. Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reports during a news conference on Wednesday that “we’re cautiously optimistic that vaccines will be available, although in limited quantities, before the end of 2020.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he estimates that there would be enough vaccine doses for all senior citizens, health care workers and first responders by the end of January, and for all Americans who want them by late March or early April. “There is hope on the way in the form of safe and effective vaccines in a matter of weeks or months,” Azar said. The federal government is currently manufacturing six potential vaccines through a program named Operation Warp Speed. The plan is to be able to begin distributing vaccines the moment they’ve been cleared for use by the Food and Drug Administration.
However, leaders from federal health agencies coordinating the distribution of future vaccines warned it’s still vital for Americans to follow health precautions, saying that the coronavirus pandemic is still the most serious public health crisis the U.S. has faced in more than a century. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, noted that the number of COVID-19 cases around the world passed 40 million this week and that new cases are rising again across the U.S.
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