In an unexpected announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday sent a message to state leaders: be ready to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine by November 1. The news came in a memo from CDC director Robert Redfield to state governors. In it, he says the McKesson Corporation will help in distributing the vaccine to local and state health departments and medical facilities.
Just two days ago, a different U.S. vaccine entered Phase 3 trials with 30,000 test subjects. Although Redfield has offered no details about the vaccine that’s coming in November, it’s unlikely it completed all phases of testing. According to the FDA, Phase 3 alone usually takes one to three years.
As The New York Times reports, two companies — Moderna and Pfizer — have been testing a new kind of vaccine that has never before been approved for use by people. The Times notes that both vaccines have gone through extensive early tests, but it is not known if they’re safe and effective. Some experts are concerned about what they see as a rushed process. “It’s hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine,” Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist in Arizona, told the Times. Election Day is November 3.