CDC says states should prepare for a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1

Boston 25 – September 2, 2020

BOSTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling public health officials around the country to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October.

Yet, the director for the National Institutes for Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said it’s “unlikely” that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready by October.

In a letter to governors dated Aug. 27, Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said states “in the near future” will receive permit applications from McKesson Corp., which has contracted with CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.

Dr. C. Michael Gibson, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a Harvard professor, says the vaccine will first go to health care workers, long term care employees, essential workers, and other high-priority groups, then to the general population. After that, people over the age of 65, minorities and incarcerated people would be prioritized.

“The vaccine must cut down symptomatic cases by 50% to be approved, and we need to follow patients up to a year, 3,000 of them to show safety,” said Gibson.

Right now, there are three vaccines currently in phase 3 trials, including Cambridge-based Moderna. Scientists have been working around the clock for the past 6 months.

“We are talking about administering millions of vaccines to people, not just once, but twice, two weeks later,” said Gibson.

Gibson says the vaccine will have to be given twice to people, two weeks apart. “You have to give a second injection of the vaccine, that’s going to be mean coordinating millions of two doses.”

He says it is important to note there is a data safety monitoring board that’s been watching the study closely. If the group finds something is off, information will be released immediately, and everything could be halted.

But all in all, Gibson says that, in his 30 years in medicine, he has never heard of a vaccination coming out so soon.