tv Gen. Gustave Perna Holds COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Briefing CSPAN December 20, 2020 5:32am-6:03am EST
a announced that the recently fda-approved moderna vaccine distribution process had begun, with 7.9 million doses allocated across 64 jurisdictions. this is about half an hour. general perna: good morning, everybody. thanks for joining us this morning. i know it is a big news weekend, but i appreciate your time and indulgence for being here with us today. today is another landmark day for our nation. it has been just 10 months since we have been on the defense against this virus. we have been social distancing, washing our hands, and we have been wearing masks. it is time to turn the tables.
and we started doing that last week. we went on the offense. last week, we kicked off the initial distribution of the fire is -- the pfizer vaccine following eua. through snowstorms, holiday rush, and with everything else going on in the country, we delivered the first 2.9 million doses across the country to every state, and we saw vaccines going into arms. what a remarkable feat. and we should all be proud of what has happened, but i want to particularly praise the great men and women of pfizer, mckesson, ups, and fedex for a truly outstanding job. thank you. last night, the fda granted emergency use authorization to moderna. and, america, we are ready to distribute that vaccine. just as we did last week with pfizer, we are prepared. so what does the playbook look like?
distribution of moderna vaccine has already begun. moderna has moved vaccine from their manufacturing sites to mckesson, who will serve as the central distributor. at mckesson distribution centers, 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. we have begun shipping ancillary kits, including needles, syringes, other supplies that are required to give the shots. for all future shipments of vaccine, we will marry these kits up together and distribute them as we get into our regular cadence. mckesson will leverage the professionals of ups and fedex , and we have absolute confidence that these three great companies will deliver vaccines to the american people in a safe and timely manner.
moderna vaccine can be shipped and stored at standard freezer temperatures and is packed in containers of 100 doses each. this allows jurisdictions the flexibility to support hard-to-reach, small, and more rural areas, but this is a state's decision. states have worked hard on their plans. they understand the priority groups and they have allocated vaccines to locations and sites where they will best meet their plans. we are in full support of them. this week, in total, between pfizer and moderna, we have allocated 7.9 million doses of vaccine and we are ready for that distribution, first dose distribution. we will ship simultaneously to all 64 jurisdictions and five federal entities.
jurisdictions have already ordered the vaccine and we know it is going to 3700 plus locations, with more requests coming in every day based on allocations. shipments will begin arriving on monday and continue through the week. moving forward, this will become our regular cadence of providing allocations, receiving orders, and shipping to the american people. we have already learned a lot of lessons from last week in the initial rollout and we will continue to apply those lessons as we move forward. i know we will learn more this week, but i am also confident that we will have the agility to correct ourselves and get things so that the next time it will go flawlessly. now, this week, many have heard about allocations of
vaccine doses being cut. i want to assure everybody, and i want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication. i know that is not done much these days, but i am responsible. and i take responsibility for the miscommunication. here is the bottom line. i want to make sure we are 100% committed to fair and equitable distribution to everybody in the united states of america, and i give you my personal word that is what i'm driving to. jurisdictions have asked me for planning numbers, and rightly so. we want to be open and transparent with them at all times. i have to work on the estimates
that we know, and we provide them forecasts accordingly, but vaccine manufacturing is a very arduous technical capability and we work hard in collaboration with them to know the process, to understand where we are at with the process, and to make our best forecast accordingly. at the end of the day, which should give you great confidence, everybody in america should have great confidence. the fda is the gold standard, not just in america, but around the world, and they require the highest levels of review at the highest standards before vaccines are released to the american people. i personally appreciate that. at the end of the day, the number of doses available to us to allocate ended up being lower. and so, as we gave forecasts to
the jurors -- to the jurisdictions and governors and states worked , their priorities against those forecasts, when we had to decide what was eventually going to be shipped out, i had to lower the allocations to meet the releasable doses that were presented to me. we look at this every day and every week, all right? and only when i am confident that the vaccine is releasable and that i have first and second doses can i move it forward. so to the governors, to the governor's staffs, please accept my personal apology if this was disruptive in your decision-making and in your conversations with the people of your great state. i will work hard to correct this and we have done several things , to do this right. because this is a herculean effort, and we are not perfect the key is to be transparent and , to openly communicate at all levels, step-by-step. to that end, we are in constant
dialogue with both industry partners to ensure doses are available. but here's the key. the doses must be releasable in accordance with the fda. we have developed the cadence that we are briefing the public health officials. we started last night. we are briefing it again today. and i will personally brief governors on monday. that will provide more predictability to the outcome we are trying to achieve. we want the american people to have confidence that the cadence we have established will ensure safe and effective vaccines are delivered to them accordingly. every week, we plan on allocating vaccines based on releasable doses, and every week, we will work with the states to ensure the vaccines are distributed to the locations that they direct us to, at the quantities that they direct. at the end of the day, this is
all about enabling the governors and the states to ensure that their people receive the vaccine in a fair and equitable process , and that when they receive it, they have confidence vaccine is safe and ready to be administered in their arms. we want shots in arms. that is our goal. in we worked tirelessly every day to make that happen. it is a whole of america approach that is executing this, and i want to give you my personal word that we are working this to the extreme, but with caution to ensure safety of every vaccine that's distributed. i personally updated secretary azar on where we think we are with numbers. 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.
i ask us all to stay focused on what really matters. we are pushing out millions of doses of vaccine right now, and each week, those numbers will continue to grow. every member of operation warp speed wants vaccines in arms, and we are doing everything possible to that end state, but we will not cut corners. we will hold to the standards and approval of the fda and then, we will ensure timely and effective distribution to where the governors and states want the vaccine. while the second vaccine from to pfizer nowon allows us to be on the offense, we are a long way from being finished. each shipment is another few yards gained, but every good player or coach knows you need defense along with offense to
win the game. i join our health professionals to urge americans to wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay socially distanced. while we move the ball down the field with vaccines, we will score. we will get to the end zone. it will just take some time to do so, and we need your help to get to that end. so thank you for your time today thank you to all the men , and women of pfizer, moderna, mckesson, fedex, ups, and i will tell you, also going down into cvs and walgreens, as we started doing immunization through their efforts down at the long-term health care facilities. i just want to say thank you to those men and women who are working day and night to make this happen. i am incredibly proud to be an american and stand here in front
of you today. i will continue to provide updates along with secretary azar throughout the week, but until then, i can take a few questions before i wrap up. >> operator, we will open the floor for questions. a friendly reminder that when asking a question please state , your name and publication, and please keep your questions as short as possible so we can get to his many questions as we can. >> thank you. as a reminder, it is *1. the first comes from elizabeth reese from usa today. your line is open. thanks so much for taking my call. i wanted to ask about this reduction. why did it take until friday -- why did it take from wednesday until friday night for clarity to come as to why the numbers were based on vaccine that had not gone through the whole process yet? general perna: it didn't take
that long. we realized, quite frankly, the next day, because governors and their staffs were alert and calling us. so what we had to do is do some forensics on what the disconnection was. so in simple terms, we allocated vaccines on tuesday night. that was a change. we were originally allocating vaccines on friday, but governors had asked, and lesson learned, that it would help benefit them and their planning if we moved it left. so absolutely we put allocations , in place tuesday night. the tuesday night allocations was a forecasted worksheet that laid out what we thought might be possible in eventual distribution. that sheet was out because i want people to get ahead of the problem and work through it. day, when end of the i snapped the chalk line on tuesday and approve the allocations based on releasable dosages, there was a difference between the worksheet and what i
approved to go into tiberius. calls came in immediately the second day as we were working through the process of the difference between forecast and actual allocation, and we worked with governors, their staffs. i briefed several. i made several phone calls myself to talk to governors, i had a great phone call with the governor of washington, governor inslee. i really appreciated his time that he allowed me to walk them , through the process, very grateful. i talked with senator reed on the hill and walked him through the process. there was many other phone calls made by the staff out to many teams to help facilitate this conversation. at the end of the day, again, i accept responsibility for the miscommunication. we are learning. our strategy was to push the first major pushes from pfizer and moderna,a --
stocks that we had stacked up and were ready to go. the initial push after eua, relatively easy. we had very good plans that had been worked through through the states all the way through ows, cdc, down to our industry partners. the key was transitioning into a regular cadence of available vaccine doses so that we could just keep moving. want to pause and then collect vaccines and then distribute a week or two weeks later. we just want a continuous flow of vaccines out to the american people every day, extending availability to more. in order to do that, we have to forecast, and then, we have to
eventually figure out what is available. again, i take responsibility. i am learning that as we go. it looked very good on paper. paper plans are very good. execution is where we learn. and we adapted accordingly. >> operator, next question. >> the next question comes from john from bloomberg. your line is open. >> hi. thanks so much for taking my question. can you tell us a little bit more about the sort of difference between when vaccines are manufactured and when they are released? and how many of the pfizer doses coming out of production don't have the quality assurance or other steps to actually make them releasable? general perna: i don't know the exact details on that. we will garner that for you and get you a better answer on that. i can tell you, it is a very
rigorous process and the fda does a fantastic job doing. there is a delay between what is available and what is releasable , because we are talking about hundreds of thousands and millions of doses we want to make sure are right. to this day, to my knowledge, there have been zero problems with the pfizer vaccines, going from manufactured to releasable. it is just about the process that you have to go through to get to releasable. >> operator, next question. >> thank you. the next question comes from rachel rubine. your line is open. is rachel rubine. this question is in a similar vein, but where you originally counting all the doses and not
, the ones that were releasable? and, two, was it that pfizer had not yet sent the doses to fda to kind of get fda's approval or was it that fda was still working on giving the stamp of approval to make the doses releasable? general perna: ok, so there is a standardized cadence of approval for vaccines when they go from completion of finish to releasable. where i failed -- i failed, nobody else failed -- is to have a clear understanding of that cadence. so when i applied it into our forecast methodology and our planning with the states, we realized -- i realized that there was a delta to the numbers that i personally thought were available and ready for distribution, and what was releasable. i can't say it any better than that.
it was my fault. i gave guidance. i am the one that approved the forecast sheets. i am the one that approved the allocations. there is no problem with the process. there is no problem with the pfizer vaccine. there is no problem with the moderna vaccine. all right? it was a planning error and i am responsible. and i don't really know how to say it any clearer than that. we are learning from it. we are trying to get better. because at the end of the day, it is about facilitating the most available vaccine doses that are releasable out to the american people. >> operator, next question. >> thank you. the next question is from kieran stacy. your line is open. this is kieran stacy from "the financial times." could you explain a little bit
about what your ever was, particularly? is it that you did not realize that this approval process had to happen to make these doses releasable, or you just thought it would take less time? general perna: a combination of everything, right? this has never been done in our history. normal vaccines. let's take influenza as an example. the country gives our orders to industry, industry spends the next six months developing and producing and preparing that vaccine for distribution, and then it is distributed in a timely manner. what we have done is to take a process that is well-regulated and standards highly enforced , and converted it into execution for covid-19 vaccine, which is, as the vaccine is developed, we are pushing it out to the american people. a simple course of action, but a totally, in my opinion,
inappropriate and unethical decision would have been to stockpile covid-19 vaccine, walk through all the process that is normal, right, wait for it all to be approved and releasable, and distribute it three or four months from now. so the mistake i made was not understanding the exactness -- in notmy responsibility, knowing all the steps that had to occur to make the vaccine releasable. but at the end of the day, here is what i have to think about. will my mother have a safe and effective vaccine? will the american people have a safe and effective? vaccine -- safe and effective vaccine? i failed. i am adjusting. i am fixing. we will move forward from there. over. >> operator, next question. >> the next question comes from meg from cnbc. your line is open.
>> hi. i am wondering if operation warp speed has projections, as more vaccine supply becomes available over the week, is there a point, based on your communications with the states, on how many vaccinations can be performed in this country per week? at some point, you will have more supply than you can actually ship, because you just can't perform anymore vaccinations what is that limit? . what is that limit? general perna: we are not there yet. my sense based on what we project we will receive over the next few months, we will not reach that limit. i think the key is access to the vaccine to the most places throughout america. we are calling them providers. and we have over 50,000 providers that are enrolled across the country. visualize them everywhere from hospitals, doctors offices,
pharmacies, pharmacy chains, etc. and we think that that quantity and the distribution of the vaccine will provide everybody in america the access to the vaccine when supply is available. so i don't see us reaching a point where we will be constrained, where supply will overrun capability and capacity to administer, but we will manage, and we will work that as we go forward. >> next question. >> next question is from jill from ap. your line is open. >> thank you so much for doing this call. i don't want to hammer this point, but i was just hoping you can you explain in very simple layman's terms that anybody can understand exactly what needs to happen to make doses releasable? and also, i think you made a reference to second dose availability, does that play any role in this process? general perna: i will answer the
doser, and yes, the second availability is key for us. the strategy is that we release first doses we have second doses on hand and have confidence the , releasable doses will meet that requirement. i am not going to spend any more time talking about the details between finish and releasable. thank you. >> operator, next question. >> the next question is from eric. please state your media outlet. your line is open. >> yes, thank you. eric, freightwaves. i am wondering have you had any temperature dispersions like you talked about earlier in the week, and have you analyzed and found out what happened to those, and why is going to 80 were 90 degrees or even colder problem? general perna: no, we have had no more than when i talked to you about.
and we have run the checks. pfizer has run the checks and collaborated with the fda. and going down below -80 had no effect on the vaccine, but they wanted to make sure and not only that the vaccine remains safe , but also the vial containing the vaccine, the seal, etc., was still appropriate. that's been approved and there are no issues with that. the vaccine, as they are theorizing, and we are not there yet because we don't have enough true -- situations to truly evaluate -- enough situations to truly validate -- but, as a vaccine travels in the air, etc., dry ice shifts, etc., the temperature fluctuates into a colder temperature -- poor choice of words, i apologize --
and hence, the -92. the key of this is the diligence and professionalism and immediacy which pfizer reacted in combination with fedex and ups. remarkable ability to see themselves, take control, quarantine, return, and replaced -- and replace the vaccine was just spectacular. and i applaud everybody involved in that. >> operator, we have time for one last question. >> the last questions comes from sarah murray from cnn. your line is open. >> thank you for doing the call. the cadence has gone so far with the pfizer vaccine, i'm curious what gives you the confidence you will be able to reach your goal you have set for yourself at the end of the year? general perna: i think, you
know, we have done a lot of work, right? a lot of planning on this, a lot of collaboration from the cdc experts through commercial industry, both the manufacturers and those that are distributing, as well as working with the states on final administration. as i said earlier, it is a plan. it is a plan that we have rehearsed many times, but at the end of the day, it is when things go into action that we figure out if there is something not right. based on everything i know right now, i feel confident we will have the allocations of 20 million by the end of the month , and that we will be literally finishing distribution of that 20 million by the -- inside the first week of january.