Robert Redfield, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has written to US states urging them to prepare for a potential coronavirus vaccine by November 1, two days before the country goes to the polls to choose its next president.
The federal government has set up a deal with McKesson Corp, a wholesaler, but needs permits from individual states in order to distribute any vaccine.
Redfield wrote in his August 27 letter that the normal time required to obtain the permits was a “significant barrier to the success of this public program” and said the CDC was requesting that states expedite the process and consider waiving requirements that would “prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by Nov 1, 2020”.
A number of vaccines are currently in phase three clinical trials, which involve tens of thousands of people with half given the vaccine and the rest a placebo. It normally takes months to assess the results.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which faces mounting criticism that it is bowing to political pressure from US President Donald Trump, has suggested it might give the vaccine emergency approval before the end of the trials.