Plans were released last week announcing how the federal government will distribute and administer Covid-19 vaccines once they have been cleared for use by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The plan has been dubbed ‘Operation Warp Speed’ and includes intentions to move the vaccines to administration sites within one day of an FDA license being released or emergency use authorization being announced. The government has said that they are aiming to make the vaccines free of charge.
The vaccine distribution strategy released Wednesday says the objective is “to ensure no one desiring vaccination will face an economic barrier to receiving one.”
“The federal government is procuring hundreds of millions of doses of safe and effective vaccines, and has contracted with McKesson for purposes of vaccine distribution, such that no American will be charged for either the COVID-19 vaccine or its distribution,” the strategy document says.
“Identifying the right messages to promote vaccine confidence, countering misinformation, and targeting outreach to vulnerable and at-risk populations will be necessary to achieve high coverage,” it reads.
The intentions are for the vaccines to be free for all but supplying and distributing will be made up of complicated processes and will require the effective cooperation between multiple agencies and organizations.
The US Department of Defense, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other parts of the US Department of Health and Human Services will have to come together to work quickly and efficiently to ensure costs are cut as much as possible for all.
“We’re dealing in a world of great uncertainty,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the US Department of Health Human Services, said during the briefing with reporters. “We don’t know the timing of when we’ll have a vaccine. We don’t know the quantities. We don’t know the efficacy of those vaccines.”
“In terms of a principle and an aspiration, it’ll be that no American has to pay a single dime out of pocket to get a vaccine,” HHS’ Mango said Wednesday. “And we’re getting very close to that aspiration right now.”
The vaccines that are currently in trials will have varying transport and storage requirements, with some needing extremely cold temperatures, some requiring particular needles and syringes and some coming with a second dose 21 or 28 days after the first.
“We will move that as fast as possible, within a day or so, to administration sites after we get the word from the FDA,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the deputy chief of supply, production and distribution for the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccine effort, said during a briefing.
“The hard part is being able to get the databases to talk with one another,” he added.
The plan highlights how vaccines will most likely be at a premium when they are first released. If approval is given by the FDA in November, local health officials have been told that there will initially be limited doses, but 2021 will see their availability increase dramatically.
“Today, my administration released our detailed national vaccine distribution plan, and that includes a plan to ensure that we swiftly deliver the vaccine directly to America’s senior citizens in nursing homes. And it’s all set. We have our military lined up, everybody’s lined up and we think that’s going to go very nicely,” President Trump said during a White House press conference.
“We’re very close to that vaccine, as you know, and I think closer than most people want to say, or certainly closer than most people understand. To get the vaccine into the hands of American people, we’re fully mobilizing the awesome power of American industry and also our military.
“This is the largest, fastest, and most advanced vaccine distribution effort in American history by far. I was reading where Biden was saying that, oh, he’s going to have a plan,” the president continued.
“They did so bad on swine flu. You wouldn’t even believe it. Take a look at their record on swine flu. In fact, the person that headed it up said it was a total disaster.
“We’re on track to deliver and distribute the vaccine in a very, very safe and effective manner. We think we can start sometime in October. So as soon as it is announced, we’ll be able to start. That’ll be from mid-October on, that may be a little bit later than that, but we’ll be all set,” he said.
“So as soon as it’s given the go ahead, they’re doing trials as you know, and as soon as it’s given the go ahead, we will get it out, defeat the virus. We’ve manufactured all of the necessary supplies, so that as soon as the FDA approves the vaccine, and as you know, we’re very close to that, we’ll be able to distribute at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and a large number much sooner than that.”