The chief scientific adviser on President Trump's Operation Warp Speed panel is predicting that Americans may be able to return to normal life by the middle of next year.
What are the details?
Dr. Moncef Slaoui told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday that tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccines will begin shipping to immunization sites by the end of this year, and that by May 2021, herd immunity could be reached.
"Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December," he said, referring to two vaccines produced by biotech companies, Pfizer and Moderna, which will soon be considered for emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Slaoui said there would need to be about "70% or so of the population being immunized" to allow for "true herd immunity to take place" and for life to start returning to normal.
"That is likely to happen in the month of May or something like that, based on our plans," he predicted.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, says he anticipates that thanks to vaccines, l… https://t.co/NMER8HjNf2— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1606054020.0
"I really hope and look forward to seeing that the level of negative perception of the vaccine decreases and peoples' acceptance increases," he added, noting acceptance of the vaccine "is going to be critical to help us."
"Most people need to be immunized before we can go back to a normal life," he added.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which partnered with German company BioNTech to develop a vaccine, announced that it had submitted an application for emergency approval from the FDA on Friday. A panel of experts are scheduled to review the application on Dec. 10.
Moderna, which also developed a vaccine with 95% efficacy against the novel coronavirus, plans to submit an emergency use authorization application in the coming weeks.
Once the vaccines are approved, the federal government, in cooperation with the private companies, will begin rapidly shipping doses to immunization sites. Health care workers and at-risk individuals will presumably receive vaccinations first.
Also during the interview with Tapper, Slaoui praised Operation War Speed's vaccine development efforts, calling it an "incredible, visionary approach to put together science and the Department of Defense and Industry in an incredible partnership."
Dr. Slaoui on Operation Warp Speed: An “Incredible, Visionary Approach...Incredible Partnership" www.youtube.com
In response to concerns that the political turmoil persisting from the 2020 election may hamper vaccine distribution efforts, Slaoui told NBC's Chuck Todd that distribution plans will be carried out no matter who is occupying the Oval Office.
"The operation has been isolated from the administration, from the political environment and the political context. We work very hard to make sure that's the case. And, therefore, all the decisions are made, the train is running. Whether one administration or the other, it doesn't frankly make a difference," he said.