Army general says vaccine already stockpiled, but his worst nightmare is that people will refuse to get protected.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The U.S. Army general in charge of President Trump’s program to produce coronavirus vaccines said Sunday he is ready to begin distribution of the vaccine across the nation within 24 hours once the government gives him the green light.
General Gus Perna hinted to the CBS program 60 Minutes that there were already stockpiles of the vaccine ready, but his biggest fear is that too many Americans would simply refuse to get vaccinated.
Perna reacted to a New Jersey health survey of 2,000 healthcare professionals that found that only 60% percent of the doctors and 40% of the nurses surveyed said that they themselves would get inoculated. New Jersey’s health commissioner Judith Persichilli said the survey showed that “there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy.”
The highly respected general, who was appointed by Trump in May to head the vaccine program dubbed Operation Warp Speed, said that refusal of people to take the vaccine reflected his worst nightmare.
“We get vaccines to the American people and they don’t take them. Shame on us. ‘Hey, I was already sick, I don’t need it.’ Shame on us. ‘Hey, I don’t believe in vaccines.’ Shame on us. Just shame on us and it does keep me up at night,” Perna said.
Perna said that he is personally responsible for making sure the inoculations get distributed, and the goal is to make them available to all 331 million Americans.
Once the vaccine is approved for use, the only thing required to start the distribution process is an “execute” order from President Trump.
Numerous vaccines are under development in the U.S. and elsewhere, but on Monday the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that preliminary results of a clinical trial of 44,000 volunteers showed their vaccine to be 90% effective.
Pfizer is hoping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will fast-track the vaccine later this month. He said tens of millions of doses would be available in December, and 600 million or more during 2021. Pfizer’s CEO said the vaccine will be made available free of charge.
Perna admitted that the government already has some stockpiles of vaccines, but he refused to go into more detail.
“I’m holding on to that number right now because I want to not create anxiety and we need to work through the details. A month from now, I’ll have more,” Perna said.
Operation Warp Speed has cost taxpayers about $12 billion and could grow to as much as $26 billion, CBS reported.
On Monday, there were 105,927 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. with 457 deaths. Since the beginning of the pandemic 10,110,552 Americans have been infected and 238,251 Americans have died from the virus.