COVID Experts Offer Caution on Vaccine Timing as Cases Rise

Speaking at the American Bankers Association’s Unconventional Convention, two key experts on the medical response to the coronavirus pandemic offered caution on the rapid availability of a COVID-19 vaccine and emphasized the need for continued vigilance as cases rise before a vaccine is available. With at best six to eight months before vaccination is widely available, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec said that social distancing and face coverings would be “a near-term enduring requirement.”

Several vaccines are in advanced stages of development, but even if an emergency use authorization is granted by the Food and Drug Administration as soon as November, once the production, delivery and dosing schedules are factored in, the first vaccinated individuals would not be immune until mid-February at the earliest, said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Meanwhile, any approved vaccine will be administered in phases, said Kadlec. Frontline health-care workers, senior citizens and long-term care home residents would be the first priority, followed by other critical infrastructure workers and only then the general population.