Topline

Amid the controversy over the production of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States—and the ongoing clash between President Trump and scientists over how soon that vaccine might be ready—the federal government Wednesday released a wide-ranging plan for the distribution of free Covid-19 vaccines starting next year. 

Key Facts

The plan is associated with Operation Warp Speed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine campaign that has drawn scrutiny over concerns that its name suggests a rushed (and unsafe) development process. 

Under the new framework, the first phase of the distribution of vaccine doses would be focused on with healthcare personnel, essential workers, and those with increased risk for severe illness.

Subsequent distribution phases would expand the program to the entire country. 

The plan says the government’s goal is to provide vaccines to healthcare providers and recipients free of charge, with no up-front costs at all. 

The plan also allows for the possibility that several vaccines from different manufacturers might be available at the same time. 

Crucial Quote

“As part of Operation Warp Speed, we have been laying the groundwork for months to distribute and administer a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it meets FDA’s gold standard,” Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Key Background

While President Trump has repeatedly claimed that a vaccine will be ready ahead of election day in November, scientists say that’s unlikely to happen at such an accelerated pace. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, has said that it’s more likely that a vaccine will be ready by the end of the year. According to a New York Times tracker, there are 40 coronavirus vaccine candidates being tested on humans in clinical trials around the world, with at least three of those candidates in Phase 3 trials in the United States.

Tangent

A Politico investigation found that CDC officials appointed by Trump—including Michael Caputo, who has been the CDC’s spokesperson since April—had been reviewing the agency’s weekly coronavirus reports prior to publication and had, in some cases, pressured scientists to alter reports that would portray the federal response to the coronavirus in a negative way. 

Further Reading

Trump Says Vaccine Will Be Ready In As Little As ‘Four Weeks’ — Scientists Say That’s Aggressive (Forbes)

62% Of U.S. Adults Fear Political Pressure Will Rush Covid Vaccine (Forbes)

Pharma CEOs Counter Trump By Promising Safety Over Shortcuts In Coronavirus Vaccine Development (Forbes)

U.S. Won’t Join Global Coronavirus Vaccine Effort Because It’s Led By The WHO (Forbes)

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