Dr. Moncef Slaoui, vaccine expert, announces "Operation Warp Speed" on November 13, 2020 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump's coronavirus vaccine tsar said Sunday he would meet with President-elect Joe Biden this week to discuss vaccine launches expected in the United States this month.
Dr. Operation Warp Speed's chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said in late November that he had not met Biden or had no contact regarding a transition process and a vaccine distribution plan.
Those November comments came the day before, after weeks of stone walls, the Trump administration officially began the transition process and eventually gave the Biden team access to resources and information.
Slaoui will be the youngest top health official to meet with the Biden team when the transition begins. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed to be Biden's top medical advisor last week and met with the incoming administration.
The president-elect has criticized the Trump administration's vaccine rollout plan, saying he has not seen a detailed plan for distributing a vaccine to states.
"There's no detailed plan for how to get the vaccine out of a container, into a hypodermic syringe or into someone else's arm anyway," Biden said in Delaware last week.
Slaoui suppressed Biden's remarks in an interview with CNN's State of the Union on Sunday morning, arguing that there was a detailed distribution plan, but Biden's transition team had not been fully informed.
Biden said he would require masking to be worn on all federal goods and interstate transportation when sworn in, and ask people to wear a mask for 100 days to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
The US reports a weekly average of more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths per day. That's the worst number since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University as infections surge across the country and hospital stays put pressure on the health system.
Slaoui said he thinks a vaccine will be long-lived between 2 and 3 years "to extend our protection for many years". In a separate interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," Slaoui said he was confident that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and that "no serious side effects" have been reported from studies.
"It is absolutely important that everyone comfort themselves that we have light at the end of the tunnel and find the energy in it to keep wearing our masks, keeping our distance, washing our hands and being careful about what we are doing that we'll be there by spring to benefit from the vaccine, "said Slaoui.
The first shipment of vaccines begins the day after the US Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine in the US, according to Slaoui. The FDA is expected to hold hearings later this month on whether or not to approve Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
"Based on the data I know, I expect a positive decision from the FDA," said Slaoui. "But of course it's your choice."
Health Department Alex Azar told ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Americans could get FDA approval in a matter of days and he expects a "more general" vaccination in February and March.
However, health researchers warn that even with vaccines rollout nationwide, deaths from Covid-19 could almost double by April, and that mere increase in mask wear by April 1 would save 66,000 lives.