Operation Warp Speed scientific head Dr. Moncef Slaoui told “Mornings with Maria” on Monday that at least 75% of Americans need to be injected with a COVID-19 vaccine for the pandemic to be under control.
Slaoui made the comment as U.S. officials said the country's first COVID-19 vaccine started to arrive in states after the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end the outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans, according to U.S. officials.
Trucks rolled out Sunday morning as shipping companies UPS and FedEx started to deliver Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 locations, according to Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna of Operation Warp Speed. Another 450 sites are expected to receive the vaccine Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I hope at least 75 or 80% of us will accept to take this vaccine because then we will have this pandemic under control,” Slaoui told host Maria Bartiromo.
Operation Warp Speed is the Trump administration’s vaccine development program and, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, its goal “is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021.”
With millions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine already being shipped across the country in December, Operation Warp Speed was operating ahead of schedule.
Slaoui told Bartiromo on Monday that by the end of the year he expects 20 million people will be “vaccinated with two doses of vaccine.”
“So we plan to have 40 million doses of vaccine [by the end of December] and our strategy is to ship half of the doses of vaccine to provide the first immunization and then three weeks later ship the other half,” he explained.
Slaoui added that in January the expectation is about 60 million doses of a vaccine will be available for administration and by March the expectation is “at least 100 million Americans” will be immunized with two doses of a vaccine.
He stressed on Monday that “transparency of all data available” is the “key” to instill public confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine amid some skepticism over its quick production and rollout.
“Everything that has been obtained and that the FDA has reviewed and the advisory committee has reviewed will be published in peer-reviewed papers and will be available for all experts to look into,” Slaoui said.
He went on to note that “engagement strategy” is also important in gaining public trust.
“There are plans for public service announcements and other such activities to engage people really at the community level, to discuss the data and to explain how these vaccines are effective and safe,” Slaoui explained.
He added that leaders “carry some level of responsibility in driving these vaccines” and “should and will be getting vaccinated in front of the public to make sure that we are able to walk the talk.”
“We’ll continue doing this every day until I hope the hesitancy decreases,” Slaoui said.
He added that it is important for Americans to understand that the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as well as the Moderna vaccine, which he said should be reviewed by the FDA “and hopefully approved at the end of this week,” have been tested very thoroughly “in animals, in test tubes, and then in clinical trials on very large number of individuals.”
“They are incredibly effective,” Slaoui continued. “They are very safe, as safe as any other vaccine that has been approved over the past many decades.”
He stressed that “our capacity as a country to control this pandemic will only really happen if the very large majority of us accept to take this vaccine.”
He then had a call to the America people asking them to keep an open mind and listen to “real experts” as well as the data and facts to make up their minds about getting injected with a vaccine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.