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Official says vaccine expected in January, countering Trump

A Trump administration official leading the response to the coronavirus pandemic says the U.S. can expect delivery of a vaccine starting in January 2021, despite statements from the president that inoculations could begin this month.

Posted: Oct 9, 2020 2:24 PM

A Trump administration official leading the response to the coronavirus pandemic says the U.S. can expect delivery of a vaccine starting in January 2021, despite statements from the president that inoculations could begin this month.

And a growing, bipartisan chorus of lawmakers, experts and public health officials says the country is ill prepared for a projected winter surge of COVID-19.

Dr. Robert Kadlec said in an email Friday that the administration “is accelerating production of safe and effective vaccines ... to ensure delivery starting January 2021." Kadlec is the Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary of preparedness and response.

President Donald Trump has said at rallies, debates and press conferences that a vaccine could arrive within weeks. “We think we can start sometime in October,” Trump said at a White House press briefing last month.

Kadlec wasn't the first health official to counter the president's optimistic timeline. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that there could be 100 million vaccine doses available by the end of the year “pending FDA authorizations.” And Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is leading the government's vaccine effort, told Marketwatch on Friday that researchers could know “by late October, or November, or in December” whether one of the vaccines in development is effective, but that it would then take weeks to get emergency authorization to administer it.

When asked about the disparity, the White House was not specific on a date but said Trump’s priority is to distribute a vaccine “as soon as possible.” Kadlec said, without elaborating, that it wasn't correct to conclude that this meant the country couldn't see a vaccine sooner than January.

Kadlec was responding to a series of questions from The Associated Press and FRONTLINE about the administration's response to the pandemic and, in particular, about shortages of critical medical supplies.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing investigation by The Associated Press, the PBS series FRONTLINE and the Global Reporting Centre that examines the deadly consequences of the fragmented worldwide medical supply chain and includes the film America’s Medical Supply Crisis.

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The AP and FRONTLINE reported earlier this week that a breakdown in the supply chain for critical medical equipment including masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators hobbled the U.S. response to COVID-19 and was likely a factor in the country's death rate, which is higher per capita than almost every other country in the world.

Experts say those shortages could now extend to the syringes, needles and glass vials that are vital to a future nationwide vaccination program.

Kadlec agrees that supply chain disruptions led to shortages. He said the administration needs more, consistent, flexible funding from Congress to shore up the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies and drugs and expand domestic manufacturing.

“There seems to be universal consensus from both sides of the aisle in Congress, from the health care sector and from the manufacturing base, that it is critical to move from a just-in-time manufacturing model to a more flexible and resilient domestic manufacturing capability,” he said.

Health experts have called for the same changes but say there’s a vacuum of federal leadership to implement them right now.

“Having a single national coordinated strategy would help ensure that states, hospitals, physician offices and other facilities have a single, centralized authority to work through to acquire essential personal protective equipment,” American Medical Association President Dr. Susan Bailey told the AP and FRONTLINE on Thursday. “The burn rate of personal protective equipment and medical supplies has been far greater than anything that we have experienced and for a far longer time, and the need for PPE and testing supplies will continue for the foreseeable future.”

The collapse of the medical supply chain wasn’t unexpected: For decades, politicians and corporate officials ignored warnings about the risks associated with America’s overdependence on foreign manufacturing and a lack of adequate preparation at home.

Of the hundreds of COVID-19 related bills introduced in Congress this year, only a handful seek to resolve supply chain issues; none of those has reached the president.

“We need to claw back our medical supply chain back to the U.S.,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who has sponsored bills to bolster the U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturing base.

Roughly nine months into the pandemic, health care workers and even the Government Accountability Office report there still isn’t enough protective equipment for frontline workers or adequate coordination from the federal government. And although there are emergency preparedness and response plans in place, implementation has been inconsistent.

“We went into this pandemic unprepared, and we remain so months later,” said Boris Lushniak, former acting surgeon general in the Obama administration. “It is time to reevaluate the complete medical supply chain in the U.S. The federal government needs to take on the leadership role here.”

Across the country, public health leaders are warning about the coming months.

“A cohesive national plan for equitably distributing PPE has still not been proposed, let alone implemented,” said Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Andrew T. Chan, who found Black, Hispanic and Asian health care workers had the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. “Thus, we will continue to fly by the seat of our pants with our fingers crossed for the foreseeable future.”

Michael Lu, dean of University of California, Berkeley’s school of public health, said one important part of the solution lies in a bipartisan bill fast tracked in the Senate that would rebuild the Strategic National Stockpile and strengthen U.S. manufacturing of medical masks, gowns and other protective gear.

"We weren’t ready for the pandemic,” Lu said. “And we are still not ready.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
Adair4418
Monona4352
Worth3630
Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
Decatur3170
Wayne3007
Audubon2962
Ringgold2112
Adams1702
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