After the FDA granted emergency use for first COVID-19 vaccine, the preliminary doses began getting packed up on Saturday, with the primary shipments to be delivered Monday.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It is an historic second within the pandemic. Late final evening, the Meals and Drug Administration formally approved the primary coronavirus vaccine to be used within the U.S. And in the present day…
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
GUS PERNA: Distribution has begun. Proper now, packing containers are being packed and loaded with vaccine with emphasis on high quality management.
MARTIN: That’s Military Normal Gus Perna with Operation Warp Velocity talking at a press convention this morning. This afternoon, one other hurdle cleared – an advisory panel with the CDC really useful the vaccine to be used. NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin is right here to speak us by means of what precisely occurs subsequent.
Selena, welcome. Thanks a lot for speaking with us.
SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: Hello, Michel – good to be right here.
MARTIN: So packing containers are being full of vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines. What is the subsequent step?
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Nicely, the federal authorities has contracted with FedEx and UPS, and the vials are going from Pfizer’s manufacturing amenities to central distribution facilities. I have been informed the primary batch will begin shifting round midday tomorrow. And Normal Perna says all states will obtain shipments on Monday. Initially, we’re speaking about small portions – about 6.4 million doses within the first batch. And every state is aware of precisely what number of doses they’re getting in these first few weeks based mostly on the state’s inhabitants.
MARTIN: And I perceive that this specific vaccine is admittedly sophisticated to deal with. Is that proper? Would you simply inform us extra about that?
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Proper. This vaccine must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. That is colder than winter in Antarctica – minus 70 levels Celsius. You want particular freezers for that. And Pfizer made these particular delivery containers that look type of like a pizza field that may be stored chilly with dry ice for a few weeks. However you additionally have to thaw and dilute the vaccine earlier than administering it. You even have to offer a second dose three weeks later. It’s a lot. It is rather, very sophisticated.
MARTIN: Nicely, in the present day, a CDC advisory group voted to suggest the Pfizer vaccine. And what was the importance of that?
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Nicely, this, together with the FDA authorization, actually kicks off this complete course of so the vaccine can begin for use and administered within the U.S. It is an essential committee. Some states want this suggestion to maneuver ahead with their plans. And shortly, the CDC will make the committee’s suggestion official steerage that the Pfizer vaccine is being really useful to be used.
CDC can also be anticipated to place out extra detailed steerage within the subsequent few days that ought to make clear questions on who may be in danger for allergic reactions and whether or not pregnant or lactating girls ought to be really useful to obtain the vaccine. So public well being officers and suppliers are desirous to get steerage on these detailed questions.
MARTIN: And I perceive that you’ve got been calling state well being officers across the nation in the present day. What are you listening to?
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Nicely, they’re working like loopy. They’re below plenty of strain. That is what Kris Ehresmann informed me. She’s the pinnacle of infectious illness on the Minnesota Division of Well being.
KRIS EHRESMANN: As historic and thrilling as it’s, no person has time to have fun (laughter).
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Some vaccinations could occur Monday, however it could be type of ceremonial picture op-type occasions. Ehresmann says in her state, it’ll be days later – possibly so long as every week – to offer time to coach suppliers on this specific vaccine.
EHRESMANN: A protected vaccine is extra than simply the product. It is the entire means of administration.
MARTIN: So do states have what they should pull this off?
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Nicely, they’ve executed a lot of planning, even full-scale dry runs. However federal funding for this vaccination marketing campaign has not but come by means of from Congress. A number of hundred million has gone out to date. Advocates say there is a determined want for extra funding on the order of $8 billion. And that funding is particularly key to succeed in essentially the most weak and essentially the most rural. It isn’t clear when Congress goes to return by means of with that funding, nevertheless it’s urgently wanted.
MARTIN: That’s NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin.
Selena, thanks a lot.
Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for additional data.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced utilizing a proprietary transcription course of developed with NPR. This textual content will not be in its last kind and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability could differ. The authoritative file of NPR’s programming is the audio file.