DETROIT – We’re learning more about how quickly the coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out.
Plans are already underway right here in Michigan.
On Tuesday morning, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spent about an hour discussing vaccine preparations with physicians and other key people.
Extremely cold freezers are already in place at some local locations ready to house the shots when they arrive.
But first they have a very big hurdle to clear.
Before any COVID-19 vaccines can be rolled out to the public they have to be granted an emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Right now data from the clinical trials is being studied extensively by FDA scientists who will then present it to the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
The committee is set to meet on Dec. 10 to consider Pfizer’s vaccine.
Meanwhile, the FDA has now asked committee members to reserve Dec. 17-18 for meetings as well.
A source says those meetings are to discuss the vaccine developed by Moderna.
Moderna is still waiting for some data, but the company says it could apply for emergency use authorization as early as next week.
Doctor Arnold Monto, a world class epidemiologist from the University of Michigan School of Public Health will lead the vaccine advisory committee.
Monto says the committee members take their role very seriously.
“It’s an intellectual pressure not a political pressure. There is no pressure on us to make a decision. We are independent, we have no financial interest and we take seriously our responsibility to represent the American public in a very important decision,” said Monto.
Those meetings will be streamed live on YouTube so the public can hear the data as it is presented.
If the Pfizer vaccine is authorized, the head of Operation Warp Speed said today they hope to distribute 6.8 million doses to the states within 24 hours, so in theory, those first vaccinations could take place as early as Dec. 12.
In terms of where the vaccine will go first in Michigan, those details are still being finalized.
Certainly many of the first Pfizer doses will go to hospitals, because frontline health care workers are in the first priority group.
But just today the state was discussing if nursing home staff and residents should also be a part of that first group.
Michigan residents could hear more about that within the next week.
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 320,506 as of Tuesday, including 8,688 deaths, state officials report.
Tuesday’s update represents 6,290 new cases and 145 additional deaths, including 51 from a Vital Records review. On Monday, the state reported 314,216 total cases and 8,543 deaths.
New COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Michigan. Testing has increased in recent weeks, with more than 45,000 diagnostic tests reported per day, but the positive rate has increased to above 13% over the last week. Hospitalizations have increased steadily for the last five weeks, including upticks in critical care and ventilator use.