According to reports by multiple news publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has “urgently” asked public health authorities in all 50 states to get two unidentified coronavirus vaccines running by Nov. 1, two days before the presidential election.
In a letter (first reported by McClatchy) CDC chief Robert Redfield asks governors to cut any red tape that would prevent distribution centers – Dallas-based McKesson Corp. and its subsidiaries, in this case – 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.
According to the Times, the CDC plans lay out technical specifications for both vaccines — which the agency is calling Vaccine A and Vaccine B — including requirements for their shipping, mixing, storage and administration.
The details seem to indicate that these vaccines are likely the ones being developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA), which are the furthest along in late-stage clinical trials, as per the Times.
The scenarios reportedly assume that the two vaccines will demonstrate sufficient safety and effectiveness to receive an emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of October.
Pfizer’s product is likely to have 2 million doses ready by October while the one matching that developed by Moderna would have one million doses ready by that period, according to the CDC documents-which also state that tens of millions of doses would be ready by the end of the year.
Still, epidemiologists see this announcement as a sign of Trump rushing to get a vaccine out before the election. “It’s hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine,” Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist in Arizona, told the NYT. Popescu also warned of “the politicization of public health and the potential safety ramifications” if the vaccine approval process is cut short.
The FDA in recent weeks has insisted it will not approve or authorize a vaccine before it is deemed safe and effective — even as President Trump has kept pushing the agency to move faster on Covid-19 shots and treatments.