Vivek Murthy, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for the US surgeon general role, suggested on Sunday that current timelines for coronavirus vaccine distribution are optimistic.
Murthy said Americans should prepare for and expect widespread vaccination by “mid-summer, early fall.”
But health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have previously said widespread coronavirus vaccination could occur as early as April.
Vaccine makers like Moderna and Pfizer gave similar timelines.
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Incoming US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday warned Americans “to be realistic about the timeline” of the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, saying widespread vaccination might not occur until ‘mid-summer, early fall.”
“When it comes to the vaccine timeline, we all want the vaccine to be delivered as quickly, as fairly as possible, and you can be sure that every day and night, that myself and others on the Biden team are working toward that,” Murthy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“But we also want to be realistic about the timeline,” he continued. “I think that if everything goes well, that we may see a circumstance where by late spring, people who are in lower-risk categories can get this vaccine. But that would really require everything to go exactly on schedule. I think it’s more realistic to assume that it may be closer to mid-summer, early fall when this vaccine makes its way to the general population.”
Murthy’s timeline is months behind the one proposed by various health officials from the Trump administration.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, said multiple times that he expects widespread vaccination by around April or May of next year. He also said the US can return to “a relative normal” by the second or third quarter of 2021 if most people receive a vaccine. The National Institute of Health, where Fauci is the director, did not immediately return a request for comment.
On Sunday, Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said he’s confident that any American will be able to get a vaccine by June.
Even Moderna, one of the biotech companies that’s already begun to distribute a coronavirus vaccine, told Business Insider that a vaccine will be available to anyone who wants one by Memorial Day.
Pfizer was the first company to successfully roll out a coronavirus vaccine. Trucks carrying the vaccine left Pfizer’s Michigan-based manufacturing plant last Sunday. Since then, hospitals and clinics all over the country have begun vaccinating people. Vice President Mike Pence was among the first people to receive it.
The company expects to distribute 50 million doses globally by year’s end, according to a statement. By the end of next year, 1.3 billion doses will have been delivered, Pfizer said.
President-elect Joe Biden has also said that within his first 100 days in office, 100 million Americans will receive a coronavirus vaccine.
“I think we can do it,” Murthy said in the “Meet the Press” interview, adding that the goal is possible only if the Biden administration prepares to tackle it. “This is going to be and will be the most aggressive and ambitious vaccination campaign that we’ve ever attempted in this country’s history,” he said.
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