At CDC, Pence says COVID-19 vaccine approval could be ‘a week and a half away’

VP in Atlanta ahead of Savannah rally for senators

Vice President Mike Pence visited Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday, where he estimated that federal approval for a vaccine for COVID-19 could be “a week and a half away.”

Pence is the chair of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, which launched “Operation Warp Speed” earlier this year to focus on the rapid development and distribution of a vaccine for the deadly Coronavirus.

During a roundtable discussion, the vice president heard from CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, and the CDC’s top infectious disease experts about the timing, production, and distribution plans for several COVID-19 vaccines now under development.

“I’m optimistic that the FDA will get authorized vaccines within the next several weeks and distribution work can begin,” Redfield told the vice president.

Pence said that it should give the American people hope to know that, ”We are...maybe just a week and a half away from what will be the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine.”

The vice president’s visit came as the country continues to struggle with rising cases and deaths from COVID-19. Georgia remains in the “red zone” according to the White House task force. As of Wednesday, Georgia had reported 428,980 confirmed cases and 53,159 antigen positive cases. Georgia also has reported 8,830 confirmed deaths attributed to the virus, including 35 reported on Wednesday.

Specifically, Pence said he expects FDA approval of a vaccine the week of Dec. 14th and noted that systems are prepped and ready to move the vaccines when they’re ready.

“Within 48 hours from the FDA approval, we could be vaccinating people literally in all 50 states and territories all across the country.”

In addition to the timing of when vaccines could be approved, the vice president discussed prioritizing who would get the vaccine first, including “the vulnerable, people in long term care facilities and the people that work there.”

Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Disease at CDC, also gave Pence details about how vaccines will be distributed, including the cold storage necessary for some.

Since the vaccines will only be as effective as the number of people who take them, Redfield also discussed the crucial task of giving the American people confidence in the vaccine.

“We have gone at a record pace, but we have cut no corners,” Pence said.

Even if the vaccines are approved in a matter of weeks, Redfield said the country must focus in the short term to make sure hospitals are not overwhelmed between now and the time when vaccines are readily available and distributed.

Wrapping up the hour-long discussion, which included Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Sen. David Perdue, and Rep. Doug Collins, Pence offered a parting message for the American people: “Help is on the way.”