The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials around the United States to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October. It also provided planning scenarios to help states prepare.
The documents were posted by The New York Times and the CDC confirmed to CNN it has sent them to city and state public health officials.
The scenarios offer details about distribution for two COVID-19 vaccines when supplies "may be constrained." The documents prioritize particular populations for the vaccines, including health care professionals, essential workers, long-term care facility residents and staff and national security populations.
CNN reported last week that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked states to speed through permits for medical and pharmaceutical supplies company McKesson to help distribute any eventual coronavirus vaccine. In a letter, Redfield asked them to waive any requirements that might get in the way of distributing vaccines by Nov. 1 — before Election Day — and weeks, if not months, before most experts expect any vaccine to be fully tested.
The scenario documents do not necessarily mean a vaccine will be available by late October. Pandemic planning exercises have for years included recommendations that the federal government ready a distribution network while scientists work on a vaccine. The Trump administration has said it's doing this. Companies developing the vaccines are already ramping up manufacturing so that, in case one or more is found safe and effective in people, it could start going into arms immediately.
"The COVID-19 vaccine landscape is evolving and uncertain, and these scenarios may evolve as more information is available," one of the scenario documents advises.
Redfield said Wednesday that his agency is preparing for one or more coronavirus vaccines to be available before the end of the year.
"Right now I will say we're preparing earnestly for what I anticipate will be reality ... that there'll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December — and we have to figure out how to make sure they're distributed in a fair and equitable way across the country," Redfield said during an interview with Yahoo Finance.
Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, have said recently it's possible the FDA could authorize an experimental Covid-19 vaccine before large Phase 3 trials are complete, if data shows a vaccine was safe and effective.
Three vaccines are currently in Phase 3 trials in the United States: those developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Pfizer and BioNTech; and AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
CNN's Andrea Kane and Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.
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