WASHINGTON -- The COVID-19 vaccine distribution had a strong week last week, with 2.9-million doses initially coming from pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna, Operation Warp Speed chief operating officer, said in a media briefing Monday.
And this week, OWS officials expect about 7.9 million Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to be distributed. Drug-maker Moderna has 5.9-million doses going to 3,400 locations, and 2.1-million Pfizer vaccines are going to 1,000 locations today and tomorrow, Perna said. He added that the vaccines will continue to be ordered on a repetitive basis.
Over the weekend, pharmaceutical company Moderna was granted emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration, and its doses started leaving distribution centers yesterday.
"I look forward to receiving this vaccine myself in the coming days as part of our efforts to demonstrate to Americans that these vaccines are safe and incredibly effective at preventing COVID-19," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II said in the update.
The secretary also emphasized the ongoing importance of virus mitigation measures.
"As we go through the vaccine rollup in the coming months, we have to keep up the good public health steps that we've been recommending for months, like washing our hands, watching our distance and wearing face coverings when we can't watch our distance," he said. "This is especially important as we go through the holiday season. The vast majority of us remain vulnerable … to the virus. And we need to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe this holiday season. Thanks to the success of Operation Warp Speed, we've got such a bright future ahead of us. Let's all get there safely."
Perna thanked OWS' industry partners for their Herculean work in getting out the vaccines the first week.
"These industry partners worked all weekend to make sure that vaccines are properly stored, properly packed, properly labeled, and that they're moved into distribution places so that we can deliver them on a regular basis Monday through Friday, as orders occur," the general said.
OWS officials said 20-million doses of vaccine will be available by the end of the year.
"We feel confident we'll be distributing the end part of that vaccine no later than the first week in January for everybody to have access to [the vaccine]," Perna said.
By the end of next week, some 11 million doses will have been distributed to the American people, he said, adding, "But we have a long way to go. And we want to be better and better every day, every week, every month — to ensure the right vaccine gets to the right place at the right time."
A Moderna trial of the vaccine has also begun in adolescents aged 12 to 18, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, OWS chief advisor said.
Azar added that OWS is about more than vaccine distribution; it is also about COVID-19 therapeutics for those who have the virus.
"More Americans need to know about the two authorized antibody therapies that OWS supported in development and manufacturing," he said. "These two products help prevent hospitalizations in those patients with the highest risk for severe disease, [and] OWS has allocated more than 400,000 treatment courses to all states and territories with 250,000-plus courses delivered," he added.
"If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at risk for severe disease based on your age, weight or underlying health conditions, there may be a therapeutic option that could help you stay out of the hospital," Azar urged.