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June 19, 2021
Latest news on the global pandemic

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President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government’s effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 15. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government’s effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine — if all things go according to plan — could be as early as the second week of December.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the State Departments of Health will have told us where to deliver the vaccine,” Slaoui told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday.

On Friday, Pfizer submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, and an FDA vaccine advisory committee is slated to meet December 10.

Slaoui said that means, if authorized, the vaccine could be rolled out the next day.

Slaoui also said that based on plans, the amount of the population who need to be vaccinated for life to return to normal is likely to happen in May.

How to achieve herd immunity: Slaoui told Tapper that with the level of efficacy that has been shown in both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, “70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place, that is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that based on our plans.”

Following Slaoui’s comments on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CBS’ Margaret Brennan on “Face The Nation,” that while he “totally agree(s)” with Slaoui that there could be herd immunity by May, it would require that a majority of the country be vaccinated.

“If you have a highly efficacious vaccine, and only a relatively small 40, 50% of the people get vaccinated, you’re not going to get the herd immunity you need,” Fauci said. “What we do need is we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated.”

A new Gallup poll found that 58% of Americans said they would get vaccinated against the coronavirus if there was an FDA-approved vaccine available right now at no cost.

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White House vaccine chief says first Americans could be vaccinated next month