Dec 4, 2020
Mike Pence & CDC Discussion on COVID-19 Vaccine Transcript December 4
VP Mike Pence met with CDC leaders on December 4 to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine and distribution. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Dr. Robert Redfield: (00:02)
I would like to welcome you, Mr. Vice President, to the CDC’s global headquarters. We’re really incredibly proud to have you here. I wanted to start off by just expressing my own personal gratitude to the more than 7,800 men and women at CDC who have been working tirelessly to support this response over the last 11 months now, as well as the other thousands of men and women at CDC that stay focused on the other critical public health efforts that this agency leads everyday. It’s been my great privilege to have the opportunity to lead them. As you know, the magnitude of the CDC’s work is unprecedented. As we talked, we’ve made about over 2,700 deployments to over 230 cities. We’ve published over 4,100 documents. We’ve helped distribute over $12.3 billion of funding to our states, tribal, local territory areas. One of the reasons we’re here to talk today, this agency has worked hard tirelessly to do its part of Operation Warp Speed for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and, most importantly, administration so that we accomplished vaccination.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (01:17)
I’m proud to say that early this week, as you know, I approved the recommendations of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to recommend vaccination to both healthcare personnel and residents of long-term facilities in the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program. I also look forward to the future recommendations that based on vaccine availability will demonstrate that we as a nation also prioritize the elderly people older than 70 who reside in multi-generational households. Often, our Hispanic, Black, travel nation families, their care for their elderly is given in these multi-generational households and they are at significant risk. The framework that in addition to the ACIP guidance, I think, has more vaccines available once your equitable distribution of the vaccine for those that most at risk for hospitalization fatalities. CDC, as you witnessed yesterday in Tennessee, continues to work with all 64 jurisdictions to move from our planning process for readiness, for vaccine distribution, which we anticipate will begin in the next several weeks. I’m optimistic that the FDA will get authorized vaccines within the next several weeks and distribution will begin.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (02:38)
Once the vaccines are authorized, it would be a really critical new tool to bring to the pandemic. But, I do also say and this agency stands strongly behind the efforts of mitigation of wearing a mask, watching our social distancing, washing our hands and being smart about crowds. Finally, Mr. President, I personally want to thank you for your leadership as the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Your leadership really has brought, as you’ve said before, not just an all the government response, but in all of a nation response to this pandemic, and has been remarkable. It’s been a personal honor for me to have you here at CDC. I will now would like to turn the floor over to you, sir.
Vice President Mike Pence: (03:21)
Well, thank you very much, Dr. Redfield and Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Messonnier, and then all the members of the CDC team. It’s my honor to be here with you. First and foremost, on behalf of President Donald Trump and all the members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, just to say thank you. Thank you to the men and women of CDC who have literally poured their lives over the last 10 months into saving lives across America. I served as governor of Indiana and had a reason to work with CDC in an incident in the state of Indiana. But, the work that we’ve done together over the last 10 months has left me deeply inspired, not just as your vice president but as an American, with the men and women that serve on this campus, on CDC campuses across America, and literally the CDC personnel that are embedded all across this country, giving counsel to state policymakers and governors as we’ve found our way through this extraordinary coronavirus pandemic and its impact. So, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you.
Vice President Mike Pence: (04:40)
I’m also very honored to be here with three leaders who have been stalwart partners in our national response. Senator David Perdue and Senator Kelly Loeffler, I want to thank you. Whether it be the CARES Act, whether it be helping us to secure billions of dollars to re-invent testing, provide PPE, the establishment of the airbridge, or just your consistent, steady support for the lives of the people of Georgia, first, I want to thank you and I thank you for being here for this update. I’m also very grateful to Congressman Doug Collins and all the members, the House of Representatives, who’ve again stood with us, put the health of the American people first. It’s an honor to have you join us for this update from the people here at CDC.
Vice President Mike Pence: (05:34)
We’re in a challenging time in the course of this pandemic and all of us have a role to play, wash our hands, social distance, wear a mask when it’s indicated. But, we’re also in a season of hope. This time of year is always filled with hope through faith traditions in the hearts of the American people, especially our children, to be as we are, maybe, Bob, just a week and a half away from what will be the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine for the American people. It’s inspiring the people in this country. We would not be here but for the tireless efforts of everyone involved in our national response, and especially for all the men and women of the CDC. So, I look forward to an update. Thank you for those strong recommendations from the ACIP that you and the CDC had endorsed. We’re going to put a priority on our seniors and staff in our long-term health care facilities.
Vice President Mike Pence: (06:42)
We’re also going to be a priority on healthcare workers so that we’ve continued not only to put their health first, but also make sure that we have the staff in our hospitals and our clinics to render care to Americans that are continued to be impacted by this pandemic. But through Operation Warp Speed, we’ll be working with governors around the country to implement those priorities and to distribute those vaccines quickly. But, I also want to say how grateful we are for CDC’s ongoing counsel of the American people on mitigation efforts, on what every American can do. Even the recent adjustment in the amount of quarantine time, taking it from the expectation of 10 to 14 days to seven days, I know it was a great encouragement to the Americans. But all along the way, CDC has been playing its invaluable role in advising not only our administration but administrations in every state, every territory in the nation.
Vice President Mike Pence: (07:45)
And so, on behalf of our president, our administration, on behalf I know of all those stakeholders and the American people, Dr. Redfield and Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Messonnier, the whole team here at CDC looking on, just thank you for your deeply compassionate and dedicated service to the American people. Because of all of you, help is on the way and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m more confident than ever that the day will come, and come soon, when we put this coronavirus in the past and return our nation to the freedom and the health and the lifestyle that we’ve all enjoyed across this country. So Dr. Redfield, thank you very much for your kind words and I’ll turn the program back over to you.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (08:39)
Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. I think now Senator Perdue, you’re going to make some comments.
Senator David Perdue: (08:46)
Well, thank you, Dr. Redfield. I appreciate you and your leadership here at the CDC, hosting this roundtable and update on where we are. Your leadership across your five big platforms around the country and all around the world has meant so much to the administration and all of us out here in the real world relative to this pandemic, so thank you for everything the CDC has done. We are so proud to have you headquartered here in Atlanta and in Georgia. But, I want to call out the vice president and the president as well for their contribution here. Mr Vice President, I want to thank you for your leadership in this entire effort. I remember in days one, with the conversations in the White House, we’re talking about how do you limit travelers coming back to US. How do you get US citizens back into the US? We’ve progressed and learned a lot about this virus since then.
Senator David Perdue: (09:30)
But, I really want to call out Operation Warp Speed. This is remarkable what you guys did, breaking through the red tape where the regulations are unnecessary, going to a sequential development, a parallel development rather than sequential, and just not years off the development of this potential vaccine. We’re so excited about the potential for an approval here in the next few weeks, but it’s on the back of development of treatment regimens, our Regeneron and remdesivir, and so forth, that you guys have really broken through the long jams and the bureaucracy to make this happen. So, thank you as well, Mr. Vice President. Thank you, sir. I’ll turn it back. Thank you.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (10:04)
Thank you. Senator Loeffler?
Senator Kelly Loeffler: (10:07)
Thank you, Director Redfield, and thank you for hosting us here for this important day. Mr. Vice president, thank you so much for your leadership of the Coronavirus Task Force. You and the president have shown America what’s possible here. You’ve given us hope. We saw in the jobs report today that America can and will get back on its feet. As you all promise, you would help bring us back. You’ve done that through the work of these great agencies, but also through the private sector. That partnership has been so important. The president recognized that. He’s a business person. He understood how to engage the private sector, but also HHS, Department of Defense, BARDA. I was so pleased to be able to support that work through the CARES Act, $3 trillion of relief going to hardworking Americans, our hospitals, our schools. My heart goes out to all Americans who are impacted by this, those lives lost, those that are ill, those small businesses that were shut down. I know that you and the president will keep fighting for Americans to come back from this stronger than ever, so thank you. Thank you, Director Redfield.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (11:10)
Vice President Mike Pence: (11:10)
Thank you, senator.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (11:11)
Thank you all. Thank you, Mr. Vice President and both of the senators. I now would like to really introduce Jay Butler, who’s our Deputy Director for Infectious Disease. Jay also served as one of our incident managers of the COVID response prior to Henry. I have asked Jay to give… Approximately, Jay, I think we’ve got about 18, 20 minutes before we have to wrap up by one, so to try to lead our discussion about our vaccine preparation and distribution efforts. Jay?
Dr. Jay Butler: (11:43)
Great. Well, thank you, Dr. Redfield, and let me also extend my welcome and appreciation, Mr. Vice president, Senator Loeffler, Senator Perdue and Congressman Collins. It’s really an honor to be able to host you here. When we look at where we’re at in the pandemic response, Ms. Vice President, you used the word hope. I remember about nine months ago, we were talking about we hoped we have a vaccine very soon. Now, we’re really on the verge of having a vaccine that will be administered to Americans. You were here at CDC. I want to acknowledge the partnership between CDC and Operation Warp Speed, but also our state, local and tribal partners who were really on the frontline administering these vaccines.
Dr. Jay Butler: (12:29)
I also want to point out that this is bigger than in all of government response. It’s an all of America response. It’s going to take all of us at various levels of government, also industry partners, healthcare providers and facilities, as well as community and faith-based organizations and leaders. So not to scare anybody, but there is a PowerPoint that might help to frame the conversation. But, I want to stress that I’d like this to be conversational, so feel free to jump in if you have questions along-
Dr. Jay Butler: (13:03)
Feel free to jump in if you have questions along the way. So the second slide describes the overarching objectives of the vaccination program, including to ensure that we have a safe and effective vaccine that will prevent the disease and deaths caused by COVID-19, and also minimize the disruption to society, help restore the economy and to be able to protect our healthcare capacity, which is really groaning under the stress of the pandemic at this time. But also to be able to assure equity in the vaccine allocation and distribution. The pandemic has really shone a bright light on some of the inequities in health and we want to do everything we can be able to resolve those. The third slide shows some of the components of the vaccine implementation, that includes, just as you were discussing-
Vice President Mike Pence: (13:59)
Dr. Butler, you made that point, and when I was in Tennessee yesterday, the head of the hospital association … There are many heroes in the midst of this pandemic the last 10 months, no more so than our doctors and nurses and people staffing our hospitals and emergency rooms. It would be all together fitting for the vaccine to go to them. But your point, well-made again, is that we focus on the vulnerable people in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the people that work there. The recommendation, CDC’s recommendation to states, it’s about making sure that as we see cases rising, hospitalizations rising, that we make sure that the staff are protected, are vaccinating and continue to give that level of care.
Dr. Jay Butler: (14:52)
Yes. Thank you. Yes, we definitely want to protect those that protect us and also recognize in our healthcare workforce is predominantly female and some of the communities that are heavily impacted by the pandemic are actually overrepresented among healthcare providers. So I think that is going to … The prioritization of healthcare providers will be important for protecting not just the healthcare infrastructure, but also addressing some of these issues that you just raised.
Vice President Mike Pence: (15:23)
Dr. Jay Butler: (15:24)
So the components of vaccine implementation include this process of identifying who is going to be vaccinated first because we will have more people than we’ll have vaccine, initially. Allocating it out to the states and some of the local jurisdictions to be able to make sure that it’s getting to where it can be administered. Distributing it, the logistics of getting it from the factory to where it can be administered and actually also making sure that it gets into arms and being able to track the safety and because it’s going to be a two dose regiments, at least for the initial vaccines, making sure those second doses are administered. And throughout all of that, making sure that we’re communicating what we know about the vaccine as transparently as possible and reassuring people that we’re telling them what we know when we know it.
Dr. Jay Butler: (16:21)
The fourth slide goes into a little more detail about the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ allocation methodology, and it’s a deliberative process using an external group of experts that advise the CDC director. As a physician, I’m going to say the ACIP is something I learned about very early in my training and it’s where I go to learn more about how vaccines should be utilized. So the question of which groups should be recommended to receive the vaccine first, there were four ethical principles that were applied. To maximize benefits and minimize harm, to be able to promote justice and fairness in vaccine distribution, to mitigate those health inequities and also to promote transparency. Incorporating what we know about the science of the vaccine, what do we know about the logistics of implementing a vaccine, particularly those ultra cold chain vaccines, and the ethics of making sure that it’s a fair process.
Dr. Jay Butler: (17:24)
The ACIP has met twice over the past two weeks in public meetings, and the fourth slide … They’re actually not numbered, but I think it’s the fourth slide that outlines some of the recommendations that came out of those deliberations. Some of the data they looked at included the fact that there’s been nearly a quarter million COVID-19 cases among healthcare providers, and unfortunately over 850 deaths. Also looking at the data that we have on long-term care facilities and modeling those epidemiological datas, we know that vaccinating staff can actually be very powerful way to be able to save lives. Then also the exposure that occurs in healthcare facilities not only can put the healthcare providers at risk of disease, but also because of the issues around quarantine and isolation, take them out of the workforce at a time when we desperately need them.
Dr. Jay Butler: (18:26)
The next slide has a bar graph, which I think says a lot about the process that the ACIP went through and recognizing that the risk of severe illness goes up with increasing age, but we’re not going to have enough vaccine to vaccinate all of our elders. But what this shows is the proportion of COVID associated hospitalizations that come from long-term care facilities and among people age 75 and older, more than half come from long-term care facilities. So that gives us an opportunity to really identify where we’re going to get the biggest bang for our buck with those initial doses of vaccines.
Dr. Jay Butler: (19:09)
So the next slide actually describes those phase one allocation groups, including healthcare personnel, which we have about 21 million in the United States that fit the broad definition of health care provider, and roughly 3 million residents of long-term care facilities. There’s issues that we are continuing to consider. As they say, the devil is in the details, and this includes things like sub-prioritization, which may be required if the supplies are even more limited than we think right now. Also implementing the programs for healthcare personnel will need to consider the fact that the vaccines do cause some reactions and sometimes it’s not uncommon for people to have a sore arm, a low grade fever, headache, to feel tired. And we want to make sure that our healthcare workforce isn’t potentially delayed from continuing to provide services because of the vaccine itself. So we’re providing additional guidelines very soon for healthcare organizations to know how to avoid any problems from the reactogenicity of the vaccine. We also know that reactogenicity appears to be lower in an older adult population. So that’s, I think, potentially good news.
Dr. Jay Butler: (20:32)
There is a graph describing the distribution concept. I’ll summarize it by saying the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra cold chain, it’s the one everybody says is Antarctic temperatures, will be shipped directly from the manufacturer to selected sites that can maintain that cold chain. In some states that may be only one or two locations. The other vaccines, such as the Moderna vaccine, will go from the factory to a distribution system that is already existing, one that we use routinely for the vaccine for children program. It’s a system that already distributes more than 80 million doses of vaccine each year. This will get the vaccine out to different places where it will be administered, and I should also add that it’s not just vaccine that’s showing up, but also the ancillary kits, where it’s needles, syringes, alcohol swabs. These kinds of details that are so important to be able to get vaccines not just out of the factory out into the states, but also making sure it’s getting into arms where it’s going to make a difference.
Vice President Mike Pence: (21:40)
Dr. Butler, on Operation Warp Speed, I think it’s an encouragement to the American people to know that while the scale of the distribution of this vaccine is historic, particularly in the timeframe that we’re going to be driving, this is what CDC does every year. I think Dr. Redfield, you gave me a number at a recent task force and I mean, how many vaccines does CDC distribute every year.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (22:10)
This system that we’re using with McKesson, as Jay said, we do over 80 million a year.
Vice President Mike Pence: (22:15)
So I think every American would be comforted to know that the CDC already has been in the business of working with the private sector to distribute 80 million vaccines every year. So while our objective is to make a vaccine available for every American, that we want it and we believe we’ll be in a position by the spring or early summer to have sufficient vaccination for that, the confidence that I’ve heard from people that we’re building on a foundation that CDC is quite well versed in and our private sector partners are very experienced in. Is that a fair comment?
Dr. Jay Butler: (22:57)
That’s a fair statement and I also just want to call out the foresight of Dr. [Messonnier 00:23:02] and her staff in the pre-pandemic planning to build into the contracts with McKesson Corporation that does the distributing to being able to have the surge capacity in the event of a pandemic so that we can go much higher than 80 million doses if that’s what we need to distribute.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (23:21)
I think Nancy should correct it, but I think when you briefed me, you had surge capacity up to maybe 900 million doses. Is that original contract?
Vice President Mike Pence: (23:31)
Well, and Dr. Messonnier, it’s great to see you again. It’s been a little while, but continue to follow your work and contributions here. How many states … I was in Tennessee yesterday. They actually had been rehearsing pandemic planning, they told me, over the previous three years, but with regard to our private sector partners and their planning in states, how much should planning had gone into this long before anybody ever heard of COVID-19? Can you address that, Nancy?
Nancy Messonnier: (24:00)
Yeah, I think that every state has been working on pandemic planning for many years, but that really kicked into high gear at the H1N1 pandemic, which actually Dr. Butler Led the immunization efforts for, and I think that the point is that while this is a unforeseen scale, the building blocks of this existed not only at CDC, but in every state and jurisdiction.
Vice President Mike Pence: (24:24)
I think that’s what’s been most inspiring to me, Bob and Dr. Butler and the team, is the forethought, the anticipation, the history of CDC’s role in preparing for and dealing with previous outbreaks. We’re building all of that with this. I think it gives all of us great confidence about the ability to hit our marks in Operation Warp Speed. But go ahead, Dr. Butler, I just wanted to amplify that with you.
Dr. Jay Butler: (24:58)
Well, thank you, sir and I think I can add for Dr. Smith, who was the health commissioner in Arkansas, and from my own experience as health commissioner in Alaska, the support of CDC was critical for the statewide and local, as well as tribal preparedness for what we’re dealing with now. There’s a slide that describes a little more of the details of the Pfizer and Moderna products. I think the only thing I’ll point out is that it’s not straightforward. It’s not as easy as 2009 and one dose of influenza vaccine. It’s two doses, it’s different intervals, it’s different handling. So there’s quite a bit of education that we’re putting together for providers, as well as some fairly complicated data tracking, to be able to make sure that-
Vice President Mike Pence: (25:47)
We’re direct shipping vaccines to providers.
Dr. Jay Butler: (25:51)
The Pfizer product is a direct shipping, and then the Moderna products is going through the McKesson process. But it’s a fast process. It doesn’t slow down-
Vice President Mike Pence: (26:00)
Both of them end up at the provider.
Dr. Jay Butler: (26:02)
Vice President Mike Pence: (26:03)
Vice President Mike Pence: (26:03)
… those are [inaudible 00:26:00] at the provider.
Dr. Jay Butler: (26:03)
Vice President Mike Pence: (26:03)
Which is really remarkable in the sense of what General Perna was briefing us on just a couple of weeks ago. As we’re encouraging states to enroll more providers, then we have the ability through either system to ultimately have that vaccine arrive at provider, however large or small they are. We actually believe that from the moment that we receive FDA approval, which we think is likely sometime the week of the 14th of December, that we could be shipping within the first 24 hours and we could be vaccinating people within 24 hours of that. Within 48 hours from the FDA’s approval, we could be vaccinating people literally in all 50 states and territories all across the country. This is all being overseen by the CDC and the experienced people here. Really remarkable.
Dr. Jay Butler: (27:12)
The next page shows actually the number of vaccine providers who are enrolled to be able to administer vaccine. This is only through this past Monday. I want to stress that even though the number exceeds 10,000, this is not a single person with a needle and syringe in hand. These includes organizations that may represent dozens, if not hundreds, of people who are administering vaccine. We’ve been working with our states to make sure we’re getting feedback, what are the problems.
Vice President Mike Pence: (27:43)
What are you mostly hearing? Because the task force deals with all the nation’s governors virtually on a weekly basis. I was speaking to a governor on my way from the airport. What’s the feedback right now? What are the issues that they’re raising right now?
Dr. Jay Butler: (28:00)
Well, sir, there’s six issues that we see as reoccurring themes. One is the funding issue to make sure that they have the ability to be able to operate the local programs.
Vice President Mike Pence: (28:15)
Dr. Jay Butler: (28:16)
That includes having enough people to administer the vaccines. While we’re leaning heavily on providers as well as partners like Walgreens or CVS, there’s going to be situations where we need a larger workforce to actually administer the vaccine. An issue we hear, maybe not so much from the governors, but from the vaccine program people is recognizing that the week of the 14th is only the beginning of the beginning. This is a process that’s going to play out over the next several months and we need to develop what the cadence will be. How do we make this a sustainable process? Because this will be a marathon and not a sprint. The other issues that have come up is making sure that we have everything in place, as I was mentioning earlier about the second dose planning, that there is enough vaccine so that no one receives a dose and then is told there’s no more available for your booster. Making sure that the people who are administrating vaccine remains safe, that there’s a personal protective equipment.
Vice President Mike Pence: (29:26)
We think by the end of the month we could have 40 million doses, but we’re going to literally hold back the second dose. The focus would be on getting about 20 million Americans vaccinated. But as you said, the priority will be to make sure that everybody knows if you get the first shot, if you’re going to be in the system and we’re already holding in reserve the second dose for you. American people can be confident with that. That’s an issue that you’re hearing about.
Dr. Jay Butler: (29:57)
Yes. But that’s a priority that we want to address and we want to keep our vaccinators safe. We want to make sure that the PPE is available to them. We’re providing a small amount to them as well, but also working with them to make sure that the stocks are available. Then addressing the issue about vaccine confidence, that people feel like it’s going to be a safe and protective vaccine. As a healthcare provider and a public health official, I know the person that most people listen to most is their health care provider.
Vice President Mike Pence: (30:31)
Dr. Jay Butler: (30:31)
We want to make sure that information is provided to healthcare providers as quickly as possible, particularly since they’re prioritized so that they can confidently receive the vaccine and then also serve as examples for their patients.
Vice President Mike Pence: (30:47)
The confidence piece is so important. We did see some positive progress. But this fall, I think in September, we only had half of the American public that said they’d be prepared to take a vaccine. I think that’s closer to 60% now and rising. I want to be sensitive to everyone’s time. I know you’re initiating a project to build confidence in the vaccine. I think it’s incumbent on all of us in public life to communicate the thorough process. We’ve gone at a record pace, but we’ve cut no corners-
Dr. Jay Butler: (31:30)
Vice President Mike Pence: (31:30)
… in this. I think that what we want to do is assure the American people there’s been no compromised of safety or effectiveness in the development of this vaccine. We just, under Operation Warp Speed, as Senator Perdue said very well, for the first time ever, we did several things at the same time. We literally manufacturing vaccines while they were being developed and screened and reviewed. That’s what puts us in a position to have the 40 million doses that we could have before the end of this month. But I just want to urge you all on in that. I know that Dr. Redfield and I’ve spoken about it. You said there’s no more trusted voices than your local healthcare provider. I think CDC’s voice in continuing to reassure the American public about the safety of this vaccine would be extremely important. I want to encourage you in that.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (32:30)
Nancy could probably make a quick comment. Clearly has been working prior to COVID to build our confidence in vaccination with influenza, which obviously then laid the groundwork for this. In addition, people may not be aware, but the CDC in partnership with the FDA really has an extensive vaccine adverse reporting system that we operate on all vaccines. I think that’s also part of the importance of building confidence, that we have this transparent adverse reporting system that, Nancy, I don’t know if you want to make a comment or two about it.
Dr. Cohen. It’s actually her-
Dr. Robert Redfield: (33:07)
Her thing? Amanda?
Nancy Messonnier: (33:10)
Sure. The Vaccinate with Confidence Program, it’s really a national strategy to support increasing confidence.
Vice President Mike Pence: (33:18)
You can step forward, Doctor, if you like, so we can see you.
Nancy Messonnier: (33:20)
The National Vaccine Confidence Program is being initiated by CDC and all of our federal partners to reinforce trust in the American public, which means we need to not only monitor safety as much as possible and as robustly as all of our systems will give us all of that data, but we also have to communicate back to the public on a regular basis. The most important thing we can also do is empower health care providers. As Dr. Butler said, healthcare providers, if they take the vaccine and they show everyone that they have taken the vaccine and that they support and recommend vaccination, they will infuse confidence in the American public.
Nancy Messonnier: (34:08)
I always say we have 200 … We have 20 million healthcare providers. If each one of them instills confidence in 10 people, we will get there. Finally, engaging communities is the last part of our strategy, which is really important to reach communities that have health disparities, that may not trust the government in the same way that other groups do. We really have to address them using local partnerships, addressing them with listening to people’s questions and concerns about the vaccine. I think several people have said, “I don’t want people to tell me what to do. I want people to talk to me about what to do.” We’re really going to use, as Dr. Butler said, an all of America approach. We need not only government and healthcare providers, but also local community sources to help us create confidence.
Vice President Mike Pence: (34:58)
That’s great, Doc. It’s Dr. Cohen, is it?
Nancy Messonnier: (35:00)
Vice President Mike Pence: (35:02)
All of that information will be public to the American people?
Nancy Messonnier: (35:04)
Vice President Mike Pence: (35:06)
The adverse effects, people could report in if they had an adverse effect of vaccine and so people would be able to track virtually in real time how people are responding to the vaccine. I think that’d be a great comfort for the country and I really want to commend you for that. Great job. Excellent job. Well, Dr. Butler, I might just jump in here because I wanted to hear a little bit from Dr. Walke, just the big picture for the … I know the senators and the congressmen are in the process of looking at possibly additional resources. I’d love to give Dr. Walkie a chance to say where we are nationally. I think in the emergency operation center, we just got a briefing that we’re seeing cases coming down across the Heartland, but we’re starting to see an upward trends in the South and in other major metropolitan areas in the Northeast. I’d love to get your sense of that.
Vice President Mike Pence: (36:09)
But let me just say, Dr. Butler. I want to thank you for your years of dedicated service, but especially this year and the difference that you’ve made and will continue to make here. We’re all grateful and we’re all grateful to you personally and look forward to continuing to work to the day that we put the coronavirus in the past. Thank you very much. Dr. Walke, you want to give us all a quick thumbnail of where we stand today and how you might best advise the task force or the policy makers that are here.
Senator David Perdue: (36:47)
Yeah. Thank you so much for the opportunity, Mr. Vice President. As you saw in the EOC, yes, there are some positive signs in the overall in some of the jurisdictions, for example, the Midwest and the Plains. We’re starting to see the cases come down. Certainly as some of the larger population centers in the West and the Northeast, we’re still seeing the cases go up. That’s the cases. Hospitalizations follow cases, increasing cases by about a week or two weeks, so the hospitalizations are still rising and it’s a real problem. Healthcare providers are overstretched. Beds are full. We need to try to prevent hospital strain. The way they do that really is for Americans to lean in and use a mask, wash their hands, maintain their distance, avoid crowded, indoor unventilated spaces and get tested.
Senator David Perdue: (37:49)
We just released, for example, our domestic travel guidance that emphasizes before you travel and after you travel, to consider getting tested before you get on a plane, especially for an international flight. Then when you return, make sure that you’re staying home for a period of time up to seven days so you make sure you’re not infecting other people. We did just reduce the quarantine. We still say 14 days is probably the safest for quarantine, but we give an option for 10 days without a test and seven days now with the test, recognizing that health departments are overwhelmed with a number of case investigations and the contact tracing. I think at this moment-
Vice President Mike Pence: (38:35)
If someone is a close contact that they know about or that they just may suspect that they were exposed, if they get a test at the end of seven days-
Senator David Perdue: (38:48)
They actually can get-
Vice President Mike Pence: (38:49)
Is that … Give that to me in layman’s terms.
Senator David Perdue: (38:52)
Thank you. They can actually get tested at five days, for example. You could get tested at five days after a close contact with a confirmed case. You’re tested at five days and that could either be with a rapid antigen test-
Senator David Perdue: (39:03)
… Case you’re tested at five days. And that could either be with a rapid antigen test where you can get the result back in 15 minutes or the molecular test, like a PCR test, which your result will come back in the next day or two. If that test is negative, then you can be released from quarantine after seven days. So seven days of quarantine with a test, 10 days without a test. I think as our hospitalization beds are filling up, the deaths are still rising, obviously. And the cases in some areas are rising as well. What we can do now is try to prevent infections.
Senator David Perdue: (39:39)
And again, as we move into the holiday season, I would encourage the American public to consider staying at home. It’s very tough advice, but we’re concerned about the rising cases and the impact on our hospital systems. So whatever we can do at the personal level, at the community level to prevent infections, we should do that. We just released an MMWR today that goes over 10 different strategies to, at this moment in the pandemic where there’s a rise in transmission, all the things that communities and individuals can do to try to prevent from increasing this transmission-
Vice President Mike Pence: (40:22)
That’s available at the CDC’s website?
Senator David Perdue: (40:24)
It’s being released today, just this afternoon. So please take a look at it, but I appreciate the opportunity to speak.
Vice President Mike Pence: (40:30)
Can I just ask one question, and maybe Dr. Redfield might take this or Dr. [inaudible 00:01:34]. Let’s assume, and we remain very optimistic. If Dr. Redfield is optimistic, our team is, that we may have approval in a week and a half of a vaccine. If we are successful in vaccinating 20 million Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable in long-term care facilities, our healthcare workers, what impact is that on the course of the pandemic? And when would would you expect to see an impact on the pandemic as we roll the vaccine out?
Senator David Perdue: (41:16)
And I’ll start, and then I’ll please [crosstalk 00:02:17].
Vice President Mike Pence: (41:18)
And I mean, in terms of its overall impact on the country.
Senator David Perdue: (41:21)
Just in terms of the long-term care residents, about 40% of all deaths are linked to long-term care residents. So by vaccinating those, we’re going to see a decrease in deaths in the future. And as vaccine becomes more and more available, then eventually we’re going to see a decrease in cases and approach this level of herd immunity. But in terms of when the timing, as you know, we have about 40 million doses. Probably by the end of the year, we’ll have more that’ll come on board. And so, we’ll need to continue these mitigation measures and the spacing, washing our hands, wearing a mask probably well into the spring until we get more widely available vaccine.
Senator David Perdue: (41:59)
But Dr. Butler, did you want to say anything else to that, or-
Dr. Jay Butler: (42:02)
Dr. Walker, I’ll just add that we’re on an excellent course right now with two vaccines that are looking very promising, but there’s a number of unknowns, and I want to acknowledge those in terms of whether or not the production will be able to continue without interruption. And we also depend heavily on some of the other products that are currently in trials, and we don’t yet have the data on those. So it’ll be a matter of being able to provide protective immunity to as many Americans as possible and being able to assess how that is driving the pandemic downward. And ultimately, that will then lead to additional recommendations about whether or not we can change our current guidelines on masks, social distancing, then hand hygiene.
Vice President Mike Pence: (42:49)
Dr. Robert Redfield: (42:50)
And I would just add that one of the big thrusts that I think we’re really confronting right now with a variety of strategies, is to do all we can to keep our health system from being overwhelmed. And I think that is the critical thing for December and January. And all of these things will contribute. Obviously, getting the nursing home residents vaccinated in December, when they make up such a significant point of hospitalizations, we’ll start to see that impact in late January. Getting our healthcare workers to make sure that they don’t have to isolate and quarantine, we won’t see that contribution. So I think that’s the add in.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (43:38)
Mr. Vice President, I just want to thank you. I know you have a busy schedule. I want to thank you for taking the time. I want to just reiterate the honor it’s been to work with you on the task force and your leadership in that. I want to thank you for coming here to acknowledge the incredible men and women at CDC that work 24/7, and they will continue to guide our nation’s response to the pandemic after we’re gone. And I have great confidence in them.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (44:11)
And we will soon see, as you know, the beginning of really what is in my view, nearly miraculous, that we’re going to begin to see the distribution of a safe and efficacious vaccine. As you said the other day in Tennessee, we can now say in the near days ahead. We no longer have to say months, it’s in the days ahead. So I want to thank you for the time. I know it’s meant a lot to the men and women of CDC, and I think you can get a sense that there’s a great group of individuals behind the scenes driving this national response at CDC. And this team is well-prepared to help guide the distribution and the administration of this vaccine.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (44:58)
As you heard, this is what they do. It’s kind of like at FedEx the other day, they do what they do. This is what they do. The American public needs to know Nancy and her team, Amanda and others are distributing 80 million doses of vaccine a year with the same company that we brought into this. There are some additional complexities, but this team is up to it. And I have great confidence that this vaccine distribution is going to be highly successful, sir.
Vice President Mike Pence: (45:23)
Well, thank you, Dr. Redfield. And to the whole team here at CDC, including those that are looking on, just thank you for your dedication. Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for your professionalism. I couldn’t be more inspired with what I’ve seen from early on, whether it be when we re-inventing testing or when we were giving guidance to essential workers to be able to stay in the workplace, to keep all of America’s essential businesses and services rolling to open companies back up that were seeing outbreaks. The guidance that you gave through those 45 days and the guidance you continue to give Americans, and now to see the way CDC is continuing to play a shepherding role over Operation Warp Speed and to make sure that we have a safe and effective vaccine and that we deliver it to the American people as quickly as possible, is tremendously inspiring.
Vice President Mike Pence: (46:23)
So Dr. Butler, thank you, Dr. Messner. Great to see you again. Dr. Walker, our incident commander, thank you for all the long hours that you’ve put in. And I want to thank Senator Leffler and Senator Purdue, again, $3 trillion in support of the American families and American businesses and American healthcare providers, and to Congressman Collins as well. You all have been extraordinary partners on behalf of the American people through this.
Vice President Mike Pence: (46:55)
But I’ll just end by saying, Dr. Redfield and I have become a very good friends through this process. And he is a man of integrity, and I just couldn’t be more grateful that Dr. Robert Redfield was leading CDC at such a time as this. And it gives me great confidence that help is on the way. We all have a role to play, and we’ll continue to play it. And we’ll continue to, all of us, do our part. But from Dr. Redfield on down, the American people owe a debt, owe a debt of gratitude and honor to the men and women of the CDC, here and around the country. So thank you and God bless you all.
Dr. Robert Redfield: (47:38)
Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Thank you very much, sir, for the kind words.
Vice President Mike Pence: (47:43)
Thank you very much, [inaudible 00:48:05]. Great job. Nancy, nice to see you again. Take good care.
Vice President Mike Pence: (47:43)
Vice President Mike Pence: (47:43)
Shari, thank you so much for your work.