Despite a fast-approaching nor’easter across the Northeast, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said FedEx and UPS are prepared and federal officials are keeping a close watch on shipments of doses.
“First, in terms of the snowstorms, as Gen. [Gustave] Perna has said, we’re following all of that,” Azar told “FOX & Friends” co-hosts Wednesday. “We literally know where every truck is, we know where every box is, we track all of that.”
“This is FedEx, this is UPS Express Shipping, they know how to deal with snow and bad weather but we are on it and following it,” he continued.
Impending weather aside, federal officials have been reportedly tracking shipment doses since the start of distribution earlier this week. Perna, Operation Warp Speed chief operating officer, told reporters 55 of the 145 initial distribution sites received shipments by noon on Monday.
The first shipments of nearly 3 million doses were previously said to arrive in 145 distribution centers Monday across 50 states, with an additional 425 sites getting shipments Tuesday and the remaining 66 on Wednesday.
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Azar reiterated his hope for likely authorization of Moderna’s vaccine candidate by federal regulators this week. If a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) independent advisory committee votes to endorse the product, and the commissioner upholds the vote, Americans could see nearly 6 million Moderna doses shipped out next week.
“Moderna is an important addition, of course it doesn’t require the type of extreme cold chain storage and it comes in a smaller pack than the 975 doses of Pfizer,” Azar said.
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He projected 20 million Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2020, up to 50 million vaccinated by end of January and 100 million shots administered between first-dose and booster shots by the end of February.
The health secretary also urged the public to avoid indoor gatherings with the winter holidays as well as to continue wearing masks, keeping proper distance and practicing hand hygiene.
“I want everybody who’s here for this holiday season to be here for next year’s holiday season,” he said.
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Azar again advised coronavirus-positive individuals over 65 and those under 65 at risk for serious COVID-19 disease to promptly ask health care workers about Regeneron or Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody treatments. He said these drugs work best early on the disease, and staff at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital was reportedly setting up related systems in the community to avoid overstressing the health system.
“We have supplies, they’re not getting used,” Azar reiterated. “You don’t want to use it when somebody shows up in the emergency room, you want to use it when they’re first diagnosed so you keep that viral load down, you reverse the disease, pushing it back and you keep out of the hospital hopefully.”