The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the second vaccine to receive the FDA’s emergency use authorization, is on its way to states, according to officials with Operation Warp Speed, the task force overseeing the nationwide vaccine distribution.
During a press conference Saturday morning, U.S. General Gustave Perna, COO of Operation Warp Speed, said “distribution of (the) Moderna vaccine has already begun.”
Moderna’s vaccine was approved for emergency use on Friday evening. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for emergency use a week earlier.
“Boxes are being packed and loaded today. Trucks will begin rolling out tomorrow, from FedEx and UPS, delivering vaccines and kits to the American people across the United States," Perna said. "This week, in total, between Pfizer and Moderna, we have allocated 7.9 million doses of vaccine."
He also took responsibility for discrepancies state leaders reported last week citing reductions in the amount of Pfizer vaccine doses they would be receiving. More than a dozen states said they were told by the federal government that next week's shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be 20-to-40% less than originally projected.
Perna said they are keeping an eye on manufacturing numbers and adjusting distribution in the short-term. USA Today is reporting the discrepancy is because of how many vaccines are able to be approved by quality control measures and released for distribution, not just how many doses are manufactured.
“I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication,” he said. “I know that’s not done much these days. But I am responsible. This is a herculean effort and we are not perfect.”
Perna did say “we remain on track to allocate around 20 million doses of vaccine to all jurisdictions by the end of December, with distribution of those doses pushing into the first week of January.”
Perna joined other health experts in reminding Americans that just because the vaccine is being distributed, that doesn’t mean mask-wearing, social distancing and other precautions can be relaxed.
"Each shipment of vaccine is another few yards gained, but any good player or coach knows that you still need defense, along with offense, to win the game. I join our health professionals in urging Americans to stay diligent in their defense,” Perna said.