WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As scientists and pharmaceutical companies work swiftly to develop a new coronavirus vaccine, public health officials and senior U.S. lawmakers are raising alarms about the lack of planning of the Trump administration for its national distribution.
PICTURE OF THE SHEET: US President Donald Trump gives a speech during a tour at the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnology Center, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant where components for a potential coronavirus disease (COVID-19) candidate for the vaccine are being developed , in Morrrisville, North Carolina, United States, July 27, 2020. REUTERS / Carlos Barria / Photo File
The federal government has traditionally played a key role in funding and overseeing the manufacture and distribution of new vaccines, which often draw on scarce ingredients and need to be carefully made, stored and transported.
There will not be enough vaccine for all 330 million Americans at once, so the government also has a role to play in deciding who gets it first, and in educating a vaccine that the public is aware of its potential merits. save lives.
Right now, it’s unclear who in Washington is in charge of surveillance, let alone with some critical details, some state health officials and members of Congress told Reuters.
Last week, a senior Trump administration official told Reuters that Operation Warp Speed, a White House working group first announced here in May, was “committed to implementing the plan ( vaccine) and distribute medical countermeasures as soon as possible. ”
However, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a Senate hearing on July 2 that his agency would lead the campaign to develop and distribute a vaccine for the new coronavirus. “This is really the primary responsibility of CDC,” he said.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt, who chairs a board overseeing funding the health program, is one of several lawmakers pushing for the CDC, which was founded in 1946 to fight malaria, to lead the effort.
“They are the only federal agency that has a proven track record of vaccine distribution and ongoing agreements with health departments across the country,” Blunt said in a statement in mid-July.
The United States leads the world in COVID-related fatalities by more than 150,000 in five months. After underestimating the threat of the virus here, President Donald Trump and his advisers are embroiled in internal battles over how they can handle the crisis just three months before his re-election bid against -Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
A Reuters / Ipsos poll from July 15-21 showed that only 38% of the public supports Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
Health officials and lawmakers say they are concerned that without careful planning and coordination with states, the distribution of vaccines could be eroded with the same kind of disruption that has led to a chronic lack of testing. coronavirus diagnostics and other medical supplies.
Washington should now educate people about vaccination plans in order to build public trust and avoid confusion, said Sen. Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the program’s funding committee. -health.
“What’s the priority, who gets it first? Respondents first, health care workers, those kind of things,” Murray said in a phone interview. On July 13, Murray published a road map here for the distribution of vaccines.
Misplaced execution means “we will be here for up to two years, three years from now on in the same economic and health position we are in today,” she said.
STATES ON SUNDAY
Some state public health officials, meanwhile, say their questions to the Trump administration have not been answered.
“We haven’t heard anything from the federal government since April 23,” said Danielle Koenig, the health promotion supervisor for the Washington State Department of Health.
This is when her agency received preliminary guidance on vaccine planning from the CDC.
Immunization experts along with state and local public health officials sent a letter here to Operation Warp Speed on June 23 asking for new guidance.
States need to know right away whether the federal government will pay for vaccines, as it did during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the letter says. Should alcohol, syringes and personal protective equipment be included? What about record keeping and the cold to store the vaccine and who delivers it?
So far, there has been no official response, said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Immunization Managers Association, one of the four organizations that signed the letter.
“We urgently await federal, state and local collaborative discussions to identify challenges and plan solutions. A vaccination campaign of this magnitude is unprecedented and will take more than an army,” Hannan said on Monday. Three, referring to Trump’s repeated statements that the U.S. military is ready to deliver the vaccines.
Trump insists everything is in place.
“We’ve all got to come when it comes to the vaccine,” Trump said at a White House meeting Thursday. “… and the delivery system is all set. Logistically we have a general that all he does is deliver things whether he is a soldier or other items.
“We’re moving forward on vaccinations, a way forward on therapeutics and when we get we are all presented with our platforms to deliver them very, very quickly,” Trump said.
Reporting by Richard Cowan; Edited by Heather Timmons and Grant McCool