The United States will succeed in producing enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be able to vaccinate all Americans who want it by May or June 2021, estimated the head of the operation, Dr. Moncef Slaoui. , in an interview with Patrice Roy at ICI RDI. Canadians will have to be patient.
Happy with the speed at which the research process took place, the Scientific Director of Operation Warp Speed, the result of a public-private partnership to produce and distribute a vaccine against COVID -19 rapidly, was reassuring.
We have progressed very satisfactorily, very quickly, without jeopardizing the safety and harmlessness of vaccines, assured from Philadelphia, the researcher in immunology and molecular biology, a leading authority in his field.
The objective of the large-scale operation, with a budget of 18 billion dollars and benefiting from the American army’s logistical assistance, was to produce and distribute 300 million doses of vaccine, of which the first doses would be available by January 2021. The US president had, however, displayed greater optimism.
The one Donald Trump nicknamed
Mister Vaccine said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was about to approve the first vaccines.
Interview with Moncef Slaoui the head of vaccines in the United States
The very first to get its green light, on December 11, will be the one developed by the American Pfizer in partnership with the German BioNTech, he predicts. Last week, the two companies reported 95% effectiveness of their messenger RNA vaccine at the end of phase 3 clinical study, more than suggested by preliminary results released a few days earlier.
A week later, it will be the turn of Moderna’s vaccine to obtain the authorities’ approval if all goes well, said Dr. Slaoui. The American company said that preliminary analysis of phase 3 clinical study of its vaccine, which also uses messenger RNA technology, shows 94.5% effectiveness.
At present, there are around 6.5 million doses of Pfizer – BioNTech’s vaccine and some 2 million of Moderna’s vaccine, but distribution must await FDA approval, says Dr. Slaoui. By the end of the year, there will be nearly 20 million doses of each of the two vaccines.
The speed with which the vaccine race unfolded does not reassure everyone, admits Dr. Slaoui, who believes that the political context has exacerbated Americans’ fears.
But the researchers have not turned corners, he assures. He explains that they could take advantage of technological platforms in which investments had been made for 10 or 15 years. He names the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-1), which appeared in Southeast Asia. The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is similar to SARS-CoV-2 to the origin of COVID-19.
There have been larger clinical studies, larger than several people immunized than the studies required for all approved vaccines, he adds, stressing the absence of serious side effects.
The difference is that we do not yet know for these vaccines the safety in the very long term; he qualifies, however.
Anticipating the approval of two more vaccines, those from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, likely in late January or early February, Dr. Slaoui believes there will then be enough vaccines to vaccinate. between 50 and 60 million people per month
The United States, he estimates, will have achieved widespread vaccination of the American population by May or June 2021, or about a year after the American president’s official announcement of the project.
The first doses manufactured on American soil will be for the American public, specifies the researcher.
Canada will take this step months later. The Public Health Agency of Canada said last week that most Canadians would be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the end of 2021.
If all goes as planned for two of the vaccines reserved by Ottawa, those from Pfizer – BioNTech and Moderna, federal authorities estimate that 3 million Canadians will be between January and March.
Ottawa purchased a total of 194 million doses of vaccine from seven manufacturers and took an option on an additional 220 million doses.
The former research director of the global giant GlaxoSmithKline says he does not believe that pharmaceuticals will get richer with their vaccines. The coronavirus is not undergoing a significant mutation, he points out, believing that this reduces the market size. We will be protected in the long term, assesses Dr. Slaoui. You may need to have a dose every five years.
Free from political pressure, assures Dr. Slaoui
The challenge of developing vaccines or vaccines in record time was daunting. I thought it was possible, but extremely difficult, admits the operation coordinator, who has 14 vaccines to his credit.
Dr. Slaoui, however, claims that he has
absolutely not [been under] pressure from President Trump. He had, however, publicly urged scientists to develop a vaccine before the November 3 election, which he ultimately lost.
His opponents had denounced electoral comments.
The pressure came from the pandemic itself, argues Dr. Slaoui, who says he remained insensitive to the president’s political speech in the public arena.
What has particularly bothered, he said, it is the critics who accused him of agreeing to direct the operation Warp Speed by bait money.
In fact, I gave it all up and didn’t get paid for this role. I did it voluntarily. I put my experience, my expertise, and my energy at the country’s disposal and the world, and I found it really unhealthy to use myself as a target because the real goal, obviously, was Trump. And I have nothing to do with Trump, he drops.