- The Trump administration has urged states to be ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by November 1 — two days before the election.
- A letter from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seen by multiple news outlets asks states to remove any obstacles to distribution centers opening by then.
- Trump and officials have repeatedly said they hope for a vaccine by the end of the year.
- Insiders have previously told The New York Times of concerns that the process is being wrenched to fit the election timetable, which the White House denies.
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The Trump administration has asked states to get ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by November 1, two days before the presidential election.
In the letter, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief Robert Redfield asks governors to cut any red tape that would prevent distribution centers from hitting the deadline.
“CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities, and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by Nov. 1, 2020,” it said.
Dallas-based company McKesson Corp and its subsidiaries have secured the government contract to distribute the vaccine, according to the Journal.
President Donald Trump has sought to accelerate research and production of a vaccine via Operation Warp Speed, a government program which had an initial internal deadline of October, according to a slide deck seen by The New York Times.
Michael R. Caputo, spokesperson for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, denied the October date.
The president, and officials such as Dr Anthony Fauci, have more commonly talked about a vaccine being ready by the end of the year, or early 2021.
But a pre-election vaccine is referred to by Trump campaign advisers as “the Holy Grail,” according to The Times.
Some at the FDA have expressed concerns that the urgency of the effort could undermine the vaccine’s efficacy.
Dr. Paul A. Offit of the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee, told The Times in early August that there are “a lot of people on the inside of this process who are very nervous” about the prospect of a rushed execution.
But White House officials told the Times that people’s health is the president’s highest priority, and that their timescale “has nothing to do with politics.”
Later that month, unnamed sources told the Financial Times that Trump was ready to fast-track FDA emergency use approval of an experimental vaccine being developed in the UK in order to get it out before the election.
A US Treasury representative denied this was the case.
Earlier this year, the president in a tweet made a related accusation: that the FDA was stalling progress on a vaccine so that it would only be ready after the election.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
A rushed rollout could undermine public confidence in vaccines, which is already shaky. An IPSOS Mori poll released Monday found that a third of Americans plan not to take a vaccine when it became available.
The reasons given were not explicitly tied to the speed of development, but more general worries about side effects and whether or not it would work.
Business Insider has contacted the White House for comment, but did not immediately receive a reply.