President Donald Trump said the distribution of the two newly approved COVID-19 vaccines is going smoothly, calling the success of his administration in surging vaccine development a “great miracle.”
“Distribution of both vaccines is going very smoothly,” the president wrote in a tweet on Dec. 22. “Amazing how many people are being vaccinated, record numbers.”
The United States has two authorized COVID-19 vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNTech, and another from Moderna, which was jointly developed with scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The federal government is rolling out nearly 8 million doses of the vaccines this week.
The Trump administration’s broad effort to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, called Operation Warp Speed, aimed to provide Americans with 300 million doses of the vaccine in record time.
“Our Country, and indeed the World, will soon see the great miracle of what the Trump administration has accomplished,” Trump wrote in the tweet. “They said it couldn’t be done!!!”
In July, Trump said it was “the fastest a vaccine for a novel pathogen has ever gone,” and noted that development operated under a novel paradigm that involved overlapping phases of vaccine manufacture and distribution that shortened the time to market for a viable candidate.
“Instead of the usual sequence of vaccine development, testing, and trials, followed by production, our strategy is to conduct these phases simultaneously,” Trump said at the time. The process involved the mass production of all of the most promising vaccine candidates in advance so they could be made available immediately upon approval.
Trump’s remarks come amid reports that some U.S. companies and industry groups trying to move their workers to the front of the line for a COVID-19 vaccine remain confused about conflicting state and local guidelines on how shots will be administered and to which workers.
Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are first in line to receive the vaccine, according to “Phase 1a” recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the beginning of December.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Dec. 20 voted to recommend that next in line for the vaccine, under “Phase 1b,” would be people aged 75 and older, as well as frontline essential workers.
The ACIP panel listed categories of essential workers under “Phase 1b,” including first responders, teachers, and workers in food and agriculture, manufacturing, grocery stores, public transit, and at the U.S. Postal Service. The panel was faced with the tough choice of ranking a vast group of essential workers who, according to a list by the Department of Homeland Security, make up nearly 70 percent of the U.S. labor force.
It remains unclear what procedures, if any, are in place for individuals to prove they belong to a high-priority group. One industry group said on Dec. 21 that it would offer its members a model letter to give to employees, attesting to their “essential” status.
According to the panel’s recommendations, next would be “Phase 1c” of vaccine allocation, which would see prioritization of adults aged 65 to 75, those aged 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions, as well as “other essential workers.”
The ACIP recommendations, which still need to be adopted by the CDC, come months after states formulated their own distribution plans, which have been disseminated to local health departments in preparation for the vaccine. The state-level plans differ from each other and from the federal guidelines.
Both vaccines are now rolling out as some hospitals are nearing peak capacity and deaths attributed to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in the United States have exceeded 315,000.
Reuters contributed to this report.