Romney presses health officials for status update on vaccine progress

WASHINGTON – During a Senate Health Committee hearing Wednesday, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) pressed health officials for a status update on the progress for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Here is his exchange with Dr. Fauci:

Senator Romney: Dr. Fauci, I think everybody is very, very pleased with the fact that our government has proceeded with manufacturing vaccines, even though we don’t know whether they are going to work or not. That’s so we will be able to have vaccines to the American people as soon as possible. If the FDA were to approve an application, let’s say on November 1st, how long would it take for the American people to get vaccinated? Maybe I’ll change that to say, what proportion of our population, if it were approved on November 1st, what proportion of our population would be able to be vaccinated let’s say by the end of the year– that’s a two month period. I don’t know whether manufacturing facilities are producing 100 million vaccines right now or five million or ten million. So is this something that would go to a small subset of the population or could we possibly inoculate a great majority?

Dr. Fauci: Good question, Senator. The fact is that the production as it is rolling out and when you hear the numbers, that is the totality of all the companies so that in November, you’ll probably be maybe 50 million doses available. By December, maybe another 100 plus million. When you get into January or February, by the time you get to April, there will be a total of about 700 million. So if you’re talking about who’s going to get vaccinated in December or November, it is not going to be a large proportion of the population. It will be according to what we were discussing before, namely those who are according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices getting the priority-likely will be health care providers and likely will be those who are vulnerable with underlying conditions. I can’t say that for certain, but if anything is, the past is prologue, that likely will be the case. But we’re not going to have all of the doses available, for example, by the end of December. They will be rolling in as the months go by, and by the time you get to the third or fourth month of 2021, you’ll have doses for everyone.