The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials in all 50 states and the U.S. territories to plan to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to health-care workers and other high-priority groups as early as Nov. 1, according to CDC guidance.
The CDC has sent three memos, dated Aug. 26 and obtained by The Washington Post, directing officials to set up planning for limited vaccine doses.
Trump administration officials have said they hope the Food and Drug Administration will approve a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year and have promised that the process will not cut any corners or be influenced by politics.
But the timeline for possible early distribution has raised concerns that the FDA is rushing to approve a vaccine before Election Day.
The CDC memos describe planning assumptions and a detailed distribution scenario for the last quarter of the year, when a limited supply of one or two vaccines might be ready to be given to priority groups. One memo describes “Vaccine A,” “Vaccine B,” the doses that may be available by the end of October, the end of November, and the end of December, storage requirements, minimum order amounts, and possible places where the shots could be given, such as mass vaccination or mobile clinics.
If Vaccine A is approved, it needs to be stored at temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius and requires two doses, 21 days apart. About two million doses would be available by the end of October, 10 to 20 million by the end of November and 20 to 30 million by the end of December. The details match a product being developed by Pfizer.
If Vaccine B is approved, it can be stored at minus-20 degrees Celsius and requires two doses, 28 days apart, according to the CDC memo. About 26 million doses of Vaccine B would be available by the end of the year, most of them in December. The details match a product being developed by Moderna.
“These scenarios are designed to support jurisdictional, federal and partner planning, but they are still considered hypothetical,” the vaccination scenario memo states. “The Covid-19 landscape is evolving and uncertain, and these scenarios may evolve as more information is available.”