First COVID vaccination in US may be given Monday: Alex Azar

Up to 20M Pfizer vaccine doses could be distributed in 2020 and up to 100M by the end of February

The Trump administration expects to distribute up to 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine this year and as many as 100 million doses by the end of February, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday.

Azar told FOX Business "Mornings with Maria" that the Food and Drug Administration will grant emergency-use authorization for the vaccine within days, and the first shot may be given as soon as Monday.

"At this point, it is really a matter of working out some final details," he said. "Within the next couple of days, it ought to come out and we'll start having Pfizer ship that vaccine to where governors have told us."

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The news comes after an FDA advisory panel voted Thursday to endorse the 95%-effective inoculation, which cleared the way for emergency authorization and distribution.

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Front-line health care workers and residents at long-term care facilities are expected to be the first recipients of the vaccine after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield last week upheld the vote of an independent panel.

"I think it's quite realistic by end of February into March, our governors will start doing more general vaccination efforts where you're really going to your Kroger, your CVS, your Walgreens and getting your COVID vaccine very much like you get your flu vaccine," Azar said.

In the second quarter, the administration believes there will be "enough vaccine for every American who wants to get vaccinated," he added.

Pfizer will use FedEx and UPS to drop-ship vaccinations to 636 sites that governors in each state have selected for the first phase of distribution. Vaccinations could start happening as soon as Monday or Tuesday, Azar said.

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Pharmaceutical companies Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are also in the final stages of development for their respective COVID-19 vaccines; the FDA is expected to approve Moderna's later this month.

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The Trump administration has been negotiating with five other pharmaceutical companies and six manufacturers for an estimated 800 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, Azar said, adding that Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca may start distributing a vaccine as soon as January.

Developing a vaccine for the disease, which reached pandemic proportions after it was identified in Wuhan, China, late last year has been a top priority for the Trump administration through its Operation Warp Speed.

The disease has killed more than 289,000 people in the U.S., a higher death toll than any other nation, and crushed the country's economy. The benefits from a congressional relief package in the spring have largely dissipated, and small businesses have been pleading for assistance to survive the winter.

The Democratic House of Representatives and the GOP-led Senate have yet to reach an agreement with each other or the Trump administration, however, with just days left before the end of the current congressional session.

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