The first Americans are expected to get coronavirus vaccines on this date

  • The head of the Operation Warp Speed coronavirus vaccine development program has now suggested an exact date for when he thinks the first Americans will receive their COVID-19 immunization.
  • Dr. Moncef Slaoui said the current expectation is that vaccines will be delivered to states within 24 hours of FDA approval, which could come on December 10. And immunizations would begin two days after that FDA approval, so on December 12.
  • The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that more than 12.2 million coronavirus cases have been identified in the US.

The head of Operation Warp Speed — the US effort to produce a vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus — has finally suggested a specific date when he thinks the first Americans will start getting their immunizations against the virus.

The development of a coronavirus vaccine, which has proceeded at a breakneck pace and on an unprecedented schedule as the usual timespan of years has been collapsed into just a few months, has proven to be one of the most extraordinary scientific achievements of recent memory. Moreover, the messenger RNA technology used in two of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates, from Moderna as well as the partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech, is expected to change the way future vaccines are developed. Meantime, Operation Warp Speed head Dr. Moncef Slaoui has laid out a timetable we can look forward to in December, in terms of when vaccinations are expected to start. Bottom line, circle this date on your calendar if you’re keeping track: December 10.

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That’s the date when a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is scheduled to meet to consider the emergency use authorization that Pfizer has applied for regarding its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which has been found to be about 95% effective against the virus. More specifically, this vaccine candidate has been found to be 95% effective at preventing mild-to-severe cases of COVID-19 in Pfizer’s coronavirus trials.

What would happen after the FDA meeting on December 10: Dr. Slaoui said the plan is to deliver vaccines to the states within 24 hours of FDA approval, and actual vaccinations would start the second day after the FDA approval.

That means the first US COVID-19 immunizations, if everything goes according to plan, beginning on December 12.

One thing to keep in mind, according to Dr. Slaoui, is that while the second day after the FDA approval could kick-start a wave of millions of vaccinations in the US, it’s expected to be some months into 2021 before the US sees the benefits of what’s known as “herd immunity” post-immunization.

“Normally, with the level of efficacy we have, 95%, 70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place,” Dr. Slaoui told CNN over the weekend. “That is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that, based on our plans.”

All of this, of course, can’t come a moment too soon. The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that more than 12.2 million coronavirus cases have been identified in the US thus far, while more than 256,000 deaths from the virus have been reported.

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