“It is not a commitment, it is a goal that we will mobilize the entire US government and the private sector,” Azar said in “Face the Nation”.
The Trump administration has launched Operation Warp Speed, led by former pharmaceutical executive Moncef Slaoui and General Gustave Perna, commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, to accelerate the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.
While some public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said it would take at least 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is ready, the president Trump and Azar have presented a more optimistic schedule for January 2021 for the entire American population to start receiving a vaccine.
“What we are doing is wringing out the ineffectiveness of the development process to speed up development to come up with a safe and effective vaccine,” Azar said on Sunday. “And at the same time, we will step up commercial-size manufacturing to produce hundreds of millions of at-risk doses. They may not work. They may not be safe and effective, but we will have them so that we can start administration immediately. “
Asked if a vaccine would require booster injections or if hundreds of millions of doses would be enough, Azar said development programs will explore whether a vaccine can be given as a single injection or as multiple booster shots .
“This is why you are not fighting with a single target here,” he said, adding that the pool of 100 vaccine candidates has been reduced to 14, with new winnowing planned to be four to six that the government federal place “the big one”. financial bets behind. “
Azar has also defended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is part of the HHS, against criticism related to coronavirus testing, including White House business advisor Peter Navarro, who said on Sunday that the The agency “really dropped the country” in the early stages of the coronavirus epidemic.
The governors had urged the Trump administration to develop a national testing strategy, although the White House has largely forced states to step up testing for the coronavirus.
“We were facing a completely new situation here,” said Azar. “There has never been a national immediate testing regime in the public and private sectors. We literally had to build it from scratch. “
Azar said the CDC’s role is to develop an initial “low throughput” test for public health labs to perform the initial diagnosis, while the private sector is responsible for increasing high throughput testing capabilities.
“I don’t think the CDC has let this country down,” said Azar. “I believe the CDC plays an important role in public health and what has always been essential is bringing the private sector to the table. “