Because of President Trump’s founding and leadership of Operation Warp Speed, even as we face daunting epidemiological trends around the country, we have reasons for optimism.
With Monday’s announcement from the independent data and safety monitoring board for Moderna’s candidate vaccine that it showed about 95 percent efficacy, we now have two safe and highly effective vaccines that could be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and ready to distribute within weeks.
Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining this update on Operation Warp Speed.
Because of President Trump's founding and leadership of Operation Warp Speed, even as we face daunting epidemiological trends around the country, we have reasons for optimism.
With Monday's announcement from the independent data and safety monitoring board for Moderna's candidate vaccine that it showed about 95 percent efficacy, we now have two safe and highly effective vaccines that could be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and ready to distribute within weeks.
Operation Warp Speed has accelerated the timelines for delivering an eventual safe and effective vaccine in a number of ways. We made development investments in five different vaccines and upfront, pre-purchase agreements with six vaccines, driving drugmakers to begin manufacturing before they know whether their products would be successful or not.
We've worked closely with these manufacturers to ensure that they have what they need in the way of raw materials, with Operation Warp Speed applying the same skills that keep the U.S. military supplied to ensure that there are no delays in vaccine production.
Because of this work, by the end of December, we expect to have about 40 million doses of these two vaccines available for distribution, pending FDA authorization—enough to vaccinate about 20 million of our most vulnerable Americans—and production would continue to ramp up after that.
We've been laying the groundwork for distribution and administration for months. There are four major tasks necessary to get the manufactured product to Americans safely in order to save lives: allocation, distribution, administration, and ongoing monitoring and data work.
We've led much of the groundwork for these efforts and covered the major costs: We've paid for the vaccines.
We've worked to ensure that administration costs will be covered by private insurers and the federal government through Medicare, Medicaid, and our program to cover COVID-19 costs for the uninsured, so no American will face an out-of-pocket cost for getting a COVID-19 vaccine. We've procured ancillary supplies like needles and PPE and assembled them into kits that we will pair up with vaccine supplies as they're distributed.
This overall task is a partnership between the federal government, including Operation Warp Speed and CDC, and the 64 state, local, and territorial public health jurisdictions that CDC works with on public immunization programs.
For allocation, the CDC's highly respected, longstanding Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will make recommendations to the CDC director about how to prioritize populations for distribution of initially scarce vaccine, and we will then be allocating vaccine to jurisdictions on a pro-rata population basis.
Then, the federal government will use the contract we have with McKesson—one of the world's leading distributors of pharmaceutical and medical products—as well as a direct arrangement with Pfizer, to ship the product from manufacturing sites to where the jurisdictions decide it needs to go.
We've been working closely with those jurisdictions as they draw up their plans for where vaccine needs to be shipped and how it will be administered, which they've already submitted to CDC for review and received feedback on.
We've done a great deal of work at HHS to support jurisdictions in these efforts. Last week, we reached nationwide agreements to allow administration of the vaccine by pharmacy chains and networks of independent pharmacies that cover more than 60 percent of the pharmacies across the country. Because of these agreements, states can ship product directly to these partners for administration.
The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, so vaccination in pharmacies is a huge piece of ensuring easy access to vaccines once they are authorized or approved and recommended for the general public.
Using pharmacy networks allows us to expand access beyond just standalone brick-and-mortar pharmacies, because pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians also provide vaccinations in places like grocery stores. The ultimate goal here is to make getting a COVID-19 vaccine as convenient as getting a flu shot.
This easy option complements the agreements we announced last month with CVS and Walgreens for them to offer vaccines in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, which present special challenges. I am pleased to report that we have seen tremendous uptake of that option already: 99 percent of skilled nursing facilities across the country have signed up, and 100 percent of facilities in 20 states are signed up.
Finally, while any vaccine distributed will have already gone through months of safety testing, we're also working with jurisdictions to ensure that they are enrolled in the information technology infrastructure that we need to monitor for any potential safety issues.
As I said at the start, we have reasons for optimism. Thanks to the incredible public servants working on Operation Warp Speed, elsewhere at HHS, across the country, and thanks to the President's unwavering support, we have such a bright future ahead of us.
But at the same time that we have such good news on vaccines, we know we face daunting trends in the virus in most parts of the country. Right now is not the time for anyone to let their guard down.
We continue to encourage Americans to follow the 3 Ws: Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear your face coverings where you can't watch your distance, and avoid settings where you can't do those things.
As we look ahead to Thanksgiving next week, I urge Americans to listen to guidance from their state and local governments, and consult CDC's guidelines about how gatherings can be made as safe as possible.
The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people you live with and through virtual celebrations. Gathering indoors with people who aren't members of your household is a high-risk activity for spreading the virus.
Please know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Because of the sacrifices Americans have made and the hard work that so many have done, we will have the chance to celebrate holidays much more safely with family and friends not so far in the future.
I now want to hand things over to Dr. Slaoui, to discuss more about the current status of vaccine development and production, and then to General Perna to discuss in much more detail the distribution plans as they stand now.
We anticipate having regular briefings of this kind for the media to ensure that you have full visibility into our vaccine and therapeutic programs, as well as our distribution planning in cooperation with the states.