Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said today that every American will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by April 2021. The first Americans will be able to receive a vaccine by the end of this month. Secretary Azar predicts that by the end of January 2021, there will be enough vaccines available for nursing home residents, health care workers, and first responders.
This is truly good news. The Pfizer vaccine, the vaccine that made news yesterday because it has been proven to be 90% effective in clinical trials, is the vaccine Azar is talking about. Up to 10 million doses could be distributed in the second quarter of 2021. During an interview on NBC’s TODAY show, Azar said that there will be “enough for all Americans by the end of March to early April to have general vaccination programs.” Pfizer is expected to produce 20 million doses a month.
Also announced Monday was that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted an emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment, called bamlanivimab.
The FDA action specifies that the therapy is meant for adults and children over age 12 with mild to moderate illness but who have high risks of getting much worse and needing hospitalization. That includes people with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease or obesity, or anyone over age 65.
The move vastly expands doctors’ ability to use Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody treatment. Previously, physicians were limited to trying the drug in clinical trials.
Eli Lilly applied for emergency use authorization in early October after the company said research suggested that the therapy could help keep Covid-19 patients from progressing to where they would need to be hospitalized.
The action “provides health care professionals on the frontline of this pandemic with another potential tool in treating Covid-19 patients,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.
Bamlanivimab is similar to a drug given to President Trump when he was hospitalized for COVID-19. The FDA is clarifying with this announcement that the emergency use authorization does not include patients who are in the hospital or who are having trouble breathing. Patients may do worse if they are in need of high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
The FDA said the decision was based on interim analysis from a phase 2 clinical trial in 465 adults with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms. The research suggested that the drug was no better than a placebo in helping patients clear the virus from their bodies; however, it did reduce the likelihood that patients would later need to be hospitalized.
Bamlanivimab is given through an IV in a single dose. In safety studies of about 800 people, the drug led to a severe allergic reaction in one person who needed an emergency medication called epinephrine to stop the reaction.
Remember when President Trump would say that a vaccine was on target to become available by the end of the year, maybe sooner? The Democrats and the media, who have enjoyed politicizing the coronavirus in order to blame Trump for it in an election year, mocked him and said he was lying about that. Looks like he was right. Even Dr. Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus taskforce who often disagrees publicly with President Trump’s statements about the coronavirus pandemic, agreed on the coming availability of a vaccine. Some days he is more agreeable than others with the president. Fauci says there will likely be another vaccine available by the end of the year.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added that there will likely be another vaccine similar to the one developed by Pfizer (PFE)that could be distributed by fellow drug company Moderna (MRNA)soon.
“It’s likely that we are going to have more than one vaccine that is effective,” he said.
“There is another company, Moderna, who has a vaccine very similar, if not identical to this, their results will be coming out soon,” he added.
Let’s just hope that the Biden administration doesn’t put Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an Oncologist, in charge of the vaccine distribution programs. Emanuel has been advising Team Biden on the coronavirus. He is famously known for saying that people have little reason to live past the age of 75 years old. That’s bad news for Sleepy Joe. Biden is 77 now, soon to be 78.