President Donald Trump’s coronavirus vaccine czar has praised President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to urge Americans nationwide to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency in an effort to battle back against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moncef Slaoui, a pharmaceutical executive and the head of Operation Warp Speed, an initiative launched by the Trump administration to produce and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine in record time, said the incoming president’s intention was “a good idea” in an interview on Sunday.
Speaking to CNN, Mr Slaoui said: “I think it's a good idea, it's never too late. This pandemic is ravaging the country. We all need to take our precaution, wear our masks, wash our hands, keep our distance, remain aware that this virus is a killer.”
He added: “We have a vaccine, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we will not all have the vaccine in our arms before May or June, so we need to be very cautious and vigilant.”
Mr Slaoui’s latest comments come after reports indicated just 40 million doses of the initial vaccines for Covid-19 would be made available to Americans across the country before the New Year — and since the vaccines require two shots, just 20 million Americans would effectively have access to the full treatment required to develop an immune response to the novel virus.
He previously suggested there could be “several hundred million” vaccines distributed nationwide in 2020 during a May event at the White House Rose Garden, but those predictions have been significantly reduced in recent weeks. Still, news of an effective vaccine for the novel responsible — already responsible for nearly 270,000 deaths in the US this year alone — has arrived at a historic speed.
But the virus has had an astounding impact on the US compared to other developed nations which took aggressive preventative measures to save lives. Mr Biden has long called for Americans to wear masks and follow precautionary measures insisted upon by the CDC and the nation’s leading epidemiologists like Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
Dr Fauci, a member of the president’s White House coronavirus response task force, has begun meeting with the president-elect and his team to assist with the transitionary efforts surrounding the pandemic.
Mr Slaoui said he was confident the vaccines would soon be approved — with two produced by Pfizer and Moderna seeing positive clinical trial results — by the FDA, and that their distribution would follow immediately thereafter.
“I expect them to recommend approval, based on the data I'm aware of. And I saw the vaccine is highly effective, the vaccine is safe, its safety profile is comparable to that of many other vaccines that have been in use for years," he said. “Overall, I really hope they do it quickly, and that the vaccine will be available to our population starting later this week.”
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