New York Correspondent
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the medical authority of the US Government, voted Tuesday which groups will be the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
A meeting of an independent council that advises the CDC determined that the priority, at the beginning of the vaccination, will be in the residences of long-term care and in health workers at risk of being exposed to the virus.
The director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, will have to decide this Wednesday whether to accept the proposal. If it does, it will be the official directive that the US Government sends to the different states, which are the ones who will have the last word in deciding which population groups have priority.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to be available by the middle of the month and the Moderna vaccine to arrive a few days later. Both have achieved very high levels of efficiencies, of about 95%, but they need clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As expected, very few doses will be available in the first phase of vaccination. The estimate is that you can vaccinate 22.5 million Americans by the end of the year, for a total of 320 million inhabitants in the country. It is not expected that until late spring or early summer a general vaccination of the population will be achieved.
Given the shortage, authorities have had to determine who will receive it first. Long-term care residences – where the majority of residents are elderly – have registered 6% of covid cases in the US but the 40% of deaths, as a result of a virus that is very aggressive in older people.
The health workers who are on the front line of the fight against the pandemic are also at high risk, although their death rate is low: there have been some 240,000 infections and 858 deaths, according to the CDC.
The CDC will determine the number of doses that each state in the country receives based on its demographic weight and then they will have to organize their distribution.
The members of the independent council voted by a clear majority of 13-1 in favor of this order of priority. The vote against was Helen Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, who argued that not studied in depth in clinical trialsthe impact of vaccines in residents of long-term care facilities. The president of the council, José Romero, defended that the decision “represents the maximum benefit and the minimum damage.”