WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As scientists and pharmaceutical companies work to develop a vaccine for a new coronavirus, public health officials and senior U.S. lawmakers are issuing alarming reports that the Trump administration does not have enough time for planned distribution across the country.
FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump will address a tour of the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies Innovation Center, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant that develops components for potential coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Morrrisville, North Carolina, USA, July 27, 2020. REUTERS / Carlos Barria / File Photo
The federal government has traditionally played a major role in funding and overseeing the production and distribution of new vaccines, which often draw on rare ingredients and need to be manufactured, stored and transported with care.
There will not be enough vaccine for all 330 million Americans immediately, so the government also has a role to play in deciding who gets it first and in educating the public who cares about the vaccine about its potential life-saving role.
It is currently unclear who is in charge of oversight in Washington, much less critical details, Reuters agents have told some government health officials and members of Congress.
Last week, a Trump administration official told Reuters last week that Operation Warp Speed, a White House task force first announced here in May, was “determined to implement the plan (vaccines) and distribute medical countermeasures as soon as possible.”
Dr. However, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said at a Senate meeting on July 2 that his agency would campaign for the development and distribution of a vaccine for the new coronavirus. “This is really the main responsibility of the CDC,” he said.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, who chairs the jury that oversees funding for health programs, is one of several lawmakers putting pressure on the CDC, which was founded in 1946 to fight malaria.
“They are the only federal agency that has proven experience in distributing vaccines and long-term agreements with health departments across the country,” Blunt said in a statement in mid-July.
The United States is on the world market with COVID-related fatalities with more than 150,000 deaths in five months. President Donald Trump and his advisers are underestimated by the threat of the virus and are involved in internal battles over how to deal with the crisis, just three months before the re-election against Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
A Reuters / Ipsos poll of July 15-21 showed that only 38% of the public supported Trump’s manipulation of the pandemic.
Health officials and lawmakers say they fear that without careful planning and coordination with states, vaccine distribution could be shaken by the same types of disorders that have led to a chronic shortage of diagnostic tests for coronaviruses and other medical devices.
Washington should now educate people about vaccination plans to increase public confidence and avoid confusion, said Sen. Patty Murray, the Democrat’s top Democrat on the health program’s finance committee.
“What is the priority of who gets it first? The first respondents, healthcare professionals, things like that, “Murray said in a telephone interview. On July 13, Murray announced a vaccine distribution plan here.
An improperly implemented enlargement would mean that “we will be sitting here for two years, in three years, in the same economic and health status as we are today,” she said.
STATES IN TOMN
In the meantime, some public health officials say their requests for the Trump report have not been answered.
“We haven’t heard from the federal government since April 23,” Danielle Koenig, a health promotion supervisor at the Washington State Department of Health, said in an email.
At that time, the agency received preliminary instructions from the CDC regarding vaccine planning.
Immunization experts, along with state and local public health officials, sent a letter to Operation Warp Speed 23. June with a request for new guidance.
States must know whether the federal government will pay for vaccines, as was the case during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the letter said. Will alcohol swabs, syringes and personal protective equipment be included in the package? And what about record keeping and refrigeration for vaccine storage and who will deliver it?
So far, there has been no official response, said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, one of the four organizations that signed the letter.
“We urgently look for joint, state and local cooperation to identify challenges and plan solutions. A vaccination campaign of this magnitude is unprecedented and will last longer than the military, “Hannan said on Tuesday, referring to Trump’s repeated statements that the US military is ready to deliver vaccines.
Trump insists that everything is in place.
“We are all ready to march on the vaccine,” Trump said at the White House on Thursday. “… And the delivery system is set up. Logistically, we have a general idea that all he does is deliver things, whether they are soldiers or other things.
“We are forward in vaccines, forward in therapy and when we have it, we are all ready with our platforms to deliver them very, very quickly,” said Trump.
Richard Cowan report; Edited by Heather Timmons and Grant McCool