The US hopes to have immunized 100 million people against COVID-19 by the end of February, a top official said Wednesday.
The push should start within weeks when vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna-NIH are expected to be approved.
Each of these requires two doses, the second after three weeks and four weeks, respectively.
“Between mid-December, and the end of February, we will have potentially immunized 100 million people,” Moncef Slauoi, scientific advisor to the government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program told reporters.
This, he continued, would cover the “at-risk” population comprising the elderly, health care workers, and first responders.
There will be an “ample” amount of vaccine to immunize three million residents of long-term care facilities, said the former pharmaceutical executive, who was recruited by the administration of President Donald Trump in May.
The rest would be enough to reach the bulk of health care workers if states and other territories agree with federal recommendations to prioritize this population.
As production of the two vaccines expands, 20 million will be reached on December, 30 million in January, and 50 million in February, making 100 million total.
This figure, however, excludes other vaccines by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca-Oxford that are in the late stages of development.
Slaoui said both could produce their results between the end of December and mid-January, paving the way for emergency approval by February if the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives the green light.
Officials say that the logistics have been put in place to start distributing the vaccines, if approved, almost right away.
“When a EUA decision comes, distribution to the American people becomes immediate within 24 hours, that’s our goal,” said General Gus Perna, chief operating officer of OWS.
Right now he is expecting to deliver the first doses on December 15.