“I believe by the end of February, the end of March, of course, depending on the decisions by our governors, but I believe we’ll have enough supply out there to be reaching out to the general public for administration — at your CVS, Walgreens, Kroegers — by the end of February into March,” Azar said.
Azar added, however, that the timeline for vaccinating the general public could be even earlier if the approval of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccine comes soon. The nation’s leading official for infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, predicted that the Covid-19 vaccines should be widely available to most Americans by April.
Regeneron and Eli Lilly‘s antibody drugs were supposed to be a bridge to a vaccine, but Moncef Slaoui, scientific head of Operation Warp Speed, said that only 5-20% of the antibody drugs already shipped to states are being used. Slaoui attributed that to the challenges of administering the drugs within a few days of diagnosis via IV, before people might feel sick. CNBC’s Meg Tirrell added that Slaoui said the antibody drugs could cut hospitalizations by half, so he hopes those challenges can be overcome. Azar echoed Slaoui’s statements when it comes to the surplus of the monoclonal antibodies.
“It [the antibodies] can dramatically reduce the risk, for us, of hospitalizations at a time when our hospitals are getting very crowded with people with Covid,” Azar said. “If you have comorbidities … if you’re at risk at getting into the hospital, you better get on that product as soon as possible.”
The record-breaking number of hospitalizations keeps growing daily with more than 110,000 Covid patients in hospitals right now. Covid cases, deaths, and hospitalizations all hit record highs today, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Hospitals in 18 states are at or near capacity. More than 300,000 Americans have died due to the coronavirus pandemic since February, and it’s now killing more than one American every minute.
Azar told host Shepard Smith that, in order to get control of the virus, Americans must “act responsibly, wash our hands, watch our distance, wear our face coverings when we can’t watch our distance, stay out of crowded indoor settings.”
Smith pointed out that many of those in the White House are not following the rules that Azar listed. Azar said he was at a White House Christmas party on Tuesday night and there were military aides and ushers there to tell people to put their masks back on if they were not actively eating or drinking.
“People were instructed that they need to wear masks at these events,” Azar said. “Our advice is the same in any setting, wear your mask if you can’t keep your distance.”