Residents in long-term care facilities will be among the first people to receive the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, but there has already been a distribution delay that could prove costly for a population group that is particularly vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19.
The vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use last week, is expected to roll out Monday, but CVS and Walgreens, two companies that will distribute the shots at many nursing homes, have said they were told not to administer them in those locations until the week of Dec. 21 (although Human and Health Services Secretary Alex Azar has contradicted that timeline. )
The news has created some confusion, but former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb broke the process down for CBS News' Margaret Brennan on Sunday. As Gottlieb explained, the "critical issue" is that the government hasn't gone into the nursing homes to get consent from individual patients in care facilities. That needs to be done before employees from CVS and Walgreens can administer the vaccine.
Gottlieb believes the "costly delay" may have been avoidable, despite regulatory orders. "I think they could have" gotten ahead of the FDA's emergency use authorization, Gottlieb said, by clearing a "fact sheet" on Pfizer's trial data with the FDA ahead of the official hearing, or maybe even providing a limited emergency use authorization just for nursing homes. However, that wasn't done and "we are where we are right now. ".
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