The administration of impeached President Donald Trump has told U.S. states to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine that will be made ready by November 1, coincidentally just two days before Election Day. So weird, huh? Could a rushed, unsafe, but much-hyped vaccine be the 'October Surprise' from Trump's campaign and administration?
CDC planning documents first reported today by The New York Times encourage health officials to start deciding which groups get priority for a vaccine, start identifying which health care providers will administer the vaccine, and take other steps to prepare.
"The COVID-19 vaccine landscape is evolving and uncertain, and these scenarios may evolve as more information is available," one of the documents reads. Another says limited doses of the COVID-19 vaccine doses could be available by early November, with supply increasing in the new year. It also states that initially available vaccines will either be approved by the Food and Drug Administration or authorized by the agency under its emergency powers.
From the New York Times:
The new C.D.C. guidance is the latest sign of an accelerating race for a vaccine to ease a pandemic that has killed more than 184,000 Americans. The documents were sent out on the same day that President Trump told the nation in his speech to the Republican National Convention that a vaccine might arrive before the end of the year.
Over the past week, both Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, who heads the Food and Drug Administration, have said in interviews with news organizations that a vaccine may be available for certain groups before clinical trials have been completed, if the data is overwhelmingly positive.
Public health experts agree that agencies at all levels of government should urgently prepare for what will eventually be a vast, complex effort to vaccinate hundreds of millions of Americans. But the possibility of a rollout in late October or early November has heightened concerns that the Trump administration is seeking to rush the distribution of a vaccine — or simply to hype that one is possible — before Election Day on Nov. 3.
In a letter to governors dated Aug. 27, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said states "in the near future" will receive permit applications from McKesson Corp., which has contracted with CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.
"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," Redfield wrote.
He wrote that any waivers will not compromise the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine. The Associated Press obtained the letter, which was first reported by McClatchy.
The CDC also sent three planning documents to some health departments that included possible timelines for when vaccines would be available. The documents are to be used to develop plans for early vaccination when the supply might be constrained, according to one of the documents, which outlined a scenario in which a vaccine could be available as soon as the end of October.
More at the AP: CDC tells states: Be ready to distribute vaccines on Nov. 1