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White House Lays Out Optimistic Vaccine Schedule

First one could be available this week, and everybody should have it by mid-2021, says Azar
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2020 8:04 AM CST

(Newser) – Everybody in the US who wants the coronavirus vaccine will be able to get it by June at the latest, a top White House official tells Axios. Health and Human Services chief Alex Azar predicted total availability by the second quarter of 2021, along with a "return to normalcy in our lives." He and the head of the Trump administration's vaccine efforts also pledged a quick rollout once the first vaccine is approved. Moncef Slaoui, the top science adviser for Operation Warp Speed, said Sunday that the vaccine made by Pfizer could be approved and made available by the end of this week, reports the New York Times. It's possible up to 24 million Americans could be vaccinated by the middle of next month, according to the White House estimates, though the Times notes skepticism about that because of the staggering logistics involved.

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“To meet those kinds of aggressive timelines, all the stars would have to align,” says Dr. Peter Hotez of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. President-elect Biden also voiced criticism last week, saying, "There is no detailed plan that we've seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe into somebody's arm." On Sunday, Azar dismissed that criticism as "just nonsense," per Politico. Slaoui said Biden advisers would be briefed Monday on the plan. Separately, Slaoui also backed Biden's idea of asking Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his term, notes Politico. Meanwhile, the UK is preparing to begin its first vaccinations with the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, reports CNN. (Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized with COVID.)

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