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Operation Warp Speed: Top officials provide update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Gustave Perna, Moncef Slaoui
Posted at 6:27 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 10:23:45-05

Officials with Operation Warp Speed confirmed Wednesday that they remain on track in their goal to distribute 20 million initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the month.

Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar, as well as Operation Warp Speed chief medical adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui and the operation's chief operating officer Gen. Gus F. Perna, said Wednesday that the first shipments of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine were delivered largely without issue.

The briefing comes just two days after medical centers across the country began administering the first initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer. That vaccine was approved for Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA last Friday and was formally recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the weekend.

The briefing also comes a day before a vote by an FDA panel on whether to recommend a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna for Emergency Use Authorization. Should the panel vote in favor of the recommendation, it would keep the Moderna vaccine on track for authorization by next week.

In a report released Tuesday, the FDA reaffirmed Moderna's safety and efficacy statistics that were published following the conclusion of the drug's Phase III trial.

Slaoui also said that a vaccine candidate produced by Johnson & Johnson is slated to fill its Phase III trials by tomorrow, and that initial efficacy data for that drug would be available by early January. He added that initial results of a vaccine candidate produced by AstraZeneca could be available later in January.

Azar also said Wednesday that though supplies remain limited, there are still some therapeutic drugs, like antibody treatments, available for high-risk COVID-19 in some areas. Azar encouraged any high-risk patients who have been diagnosed with the virus to ask their healthcare provider about the availability of the drugs.