4th December 2020



US vaccine expert predicts life could be back to normal around May | Coronavirus

As the United States recorded its 12th million Covid-19 case, the Trump administration’s vaccine program adviser predicted that life in America could be back to normal around May of 2021 as immunization is set to begin.

The note of optimism came even as millions of Americans were expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday this week and many appeared to be ignoring warnings from health officials about furthering the spread of the infectious disease.

Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser of the government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine development and distribution program, which involves the military and the private sector as well as government health experts, said that pending regulatory approval for the first vaccine means the first Americans could be vaccinated outside of clinical trial by mid-December.

And Slaoui said that if the vaccination distribution and immunization plan goes well, enough Americans should be vaccinated by “May or something like that” of 2021 to allow life to go back to normal.

The first application to the US government for vaccine approval was made on Friday by the pharmaceutical team of Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory body is scheduled to hold a key meeting on December 10 that could award the team emergency authorization for the vaccine.

“By December 11 or 12 I’m hopeful the first people will be immunized across the US, in all states,” Slaoui told CNN’s State of the Union politics show on Sunday morning.

The administration plans to vaccinate 20 million people in December and another 30 million per month thereafter. Healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations, such as residents of nursing homes, are expected to be first in line.

Slaoui said that with the first vaccines – the US pharmaceutical firm Moderna is expected to apply for regulatory authorization soon on its vaccine – need to be given to at least 70% of the US population “for true herd immunity to take place”.

He added: “That is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that based on our plans. I really hope and look forward to seeing … people’s acceptance of the vaccine increasing. That’s critical.”

As Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede his election defeat by Joe Biden or cooperate with the Biden transition efforts, Slaoui told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he had had no contact with Biden’s team.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s Republican governor Larry Hogan said “we are pretty worried” about American planning to defy advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and travel for Thanksgiving and gather in unsafe circumstances.

“Family gathering is the number one transmission event,” he said, warning that people let their guard down at such events, failing to wear masks properly and breaking social distancing rules.

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