The Trump administration’s COVID-19 vaccine chief, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, was asked to fact check a ridiculous remark made by Joe Biden last week. He did so by saying the president-elect is not telling the truth about his claim that the Trump administration has no vaccine rollout plan.
Biden said in Delaware, “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.” Dr.Slaoui was asked Sunday by CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union if that statement is correct. Slaoui didn’t hesitate to correct Biden and say that yes, of course, there is a plan. He said that the Biden transition team will be briefed on the plan this week.
Slaoui pushed back on Biden’s remarks in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, arguing there is a detailed distribution plan but Biden’s transition team hasn’t yet been fully briefed.
Slaoui will be the latest top health official to meet with the Biden team as the transition gets underway. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, agreed to serve as Biden’s chief medical advisor last week and met with the incoming administration.
The chief advisor of Operation Warp Speed also appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and vouched for the safety of the vaccines as well as the lack of serious adverse side effects.
Slaoui said he thinks a vaccine will be long lasting, between 2 to 3 years, “prolonging our protection for many years.” In a separate interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Slaoui said he’s confident that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe with “no serious adverse side effects” reported from trials.
“It’s absolutely vital that everybody take comfort in the fact that we have light at the end of the tunnel, and find the energy in that to continue to wear our masks, distance, wash our hands, pay attention to what we’re doing to make sure we’re there by the spring to benefit from the vaccine,” Slaoui said.
These are timely reassurances from Dr. Slaoui who worked in tandem with HHS Secretary Alex Azar who appeared on ABC’s This Week to talk about the availability of vaccines in the very near future (which Ed wrote about here). Slaoui expects the first shipments of an approved vaccine to go out the day after the U.S. Food and Drug administration authorizes it. The FDA is set to hold hearings later this month for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He expects both to be approved, based on the data he has seen, he said. Secretary Azar said FDA authorization could come within days. He speculates that a “more general” vaccination will be available in February and March.
Dr. Slaoui says there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, everyone should continue to practice mitigation recommendations – hand washing, face masks, and social distancing. Life may be much more normal by spring.
“I think we may start to see some impact on the most susceptible people probably in the month of January and February,” Slaoui said in an interview with “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “But on a population basis, for our lives to start getting back to normal, we’re talking about April or May. Therefore, it’s absolutely vital that everybody take comfort in the fact that we have light at the end of the tunnel, and find the energy in that to continue to wear our masks, distance, wash our hands, pay attention to what we’re doing to make sure we’re there by the spring to benefit from the vaccine.”
That is welcome news. It is much easier to hang on and continue to practice social distancing and other mitigation measures if we know that there is a timeline for a more normal way of life.