COVID-19 vaccine will not be ‘generally available’ until 2021, Redfield says
A COVID-19 vaccine will not be “generally available” to the American public until 2021, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, said Wednesday.
“I think there will be [a] vaccine that initially [will] be available sometime between November and December, but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized,” Redfield said during a Senate hearing about the U.S. response to the coronavirus.
Redfield said it will be up to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices how the vaccine is prioritized. Health care personnel, essential workers and patients in long-term care facilities have been mentioned as priority groups likely to receive a vaccine first.
The general public will likely have to wait longer, Redfield said.
“If you’re asking me, ‘When is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life?’ I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021,” he said.
Among dozens of COVID-19 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, several have entered phase 3 development, including a vaccine that was codeveloped by the NIH, which showed promise in early-stage trials.
“As soon as [a] vaccine gets approved ... we want to be in a position to distribute it within 24 hours,” Redfield said. “You’re going to have an enormous impact on the mortality in the most vulnerable and an enormous impact in protecting those at greater risk from infection and we should see those impacts relatively immediately.”
One of Redfield’s predecessors said this week that ending the pandemic will take more than a vaccine.
“One thing that's very important to understand is that even if we have a safe available, accessible, effective and trusted vaccine, it's not going to take COVID-19 off the table,” former CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said. “There is no one thing that's going to make this pandemic magically disappear.”