California Governor Gavin Newsom announced during a Monday press briefing that the state would receive 327,000 doses of the first experimental coronavirus vaccine in the middle of December.
The distribution marks Pfizer and German firm BioNTech’s first experimental treatment shipment to the state. The pharmaceutical company recently applied for emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is expected to be approved in December.
The hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses would initially go to health care workers, but Newsom said California’s vaccine committee is still discussing which areas they would prioritize first. The number of doses is not sufficient to benefit about 2.4 million health care workers in the region.
If state officials follow the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s recommendations, they would first distribute the vaccines to health care workers at hospitals, nursing homes and in-home care, and first responders of the coronavirus. On Monday, California’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee decided to provide the treatments to health care workers and long-term care facility residents first.
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is given in two doses with 21 days in between. Officials would give the first 327,000 doses to health care workers for their first set of treatments. The pharmaceutical company is soon set to provide another round of new vaccines to complete the treatment.
The experimental vaccine would most likely be limited in its distribution and would not extend to most Americans until 2021. Residents of skilled-nursing facilities and essential workers would be the next priority after health care workers.
During an interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he expected most people would be able to walk into a CVS or Walgreens and get themselves vaccinated by April of May next year. The treatments would also become available at doctors’ officers and clinics later on.
Fauci said, “The challenge is going to be to convince people to get vaccinated,” adding that a minimum of 75% vaccination rate is needed by the end of 2021’s second quarter to effectively stop the pandemic. He urged people who wanted to help the nation get vaccinated as soon as they can, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Only two companies have so far applied for emergency use of their experimental coronavirus vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer. An FDA committee is set to discuss the applications’ approval on December 10 for Pfizer and on December 17 for Moderna.
Officials of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed announced that they would begin distribution of Pfizer’s treatment within 24 hours of being approved by the FDA. However, experts noted that the challenge would come from distributing the vaccine due to its volatile nature of needing to be stored at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit.