US healthcare workers and others proposed for the nation's first COVID-19 vaccination could start getting shots within a day or two of administrative assent next month, a top official of the government's vaccine development production said on Sunday.

Some 70% of the U.S. population of 330 million would need to be vaccinated to realize cluster immunity from the virus, a goal the country could attain by May, according to Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed.

Slaoui said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would likely grant assent in mid-December for placement of the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech, launching the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history.

The FDA's outside mentors are supposed to meet on December 10 to audit Pfizer's emergency-use application for its vaccine, which the company said was observed to be 95% potent against infection from the highly communicable breathing virus.

A second pharmaceutical company, Moderna Inc, is awaited to seek independent approval later in December for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Emerging on various network news shows on Sunday morning, Slaoui projected a timeline for getting the preliminary doses of the Pfizer vaccine from FDA authorization into the arms of those who will be first in line to receive it.

Within 24 hours from the assent, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses, Slaoui told NBC's Meet the Press. So I would anticipate, maybe on day two after assent on the 11th or 12th of December, optimistically the first people will be injected across the United States, he said on a TV program.

Once emergency-use assent is allowed, Slaoui said, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a consulting panel on vaccination practices will suggest who should receive the dose first.

Slaoui said they are likely to cover doctors, nurses and battle-line emergency medical personnel, as well as respectives pondered to be at the highest risk of critical illness and death from the virus, such as the aged.

Public health authorities in each state will be accountable for managing the vaccine unfurl, with the first doses allocated to the states commensurate to their populations, he said.

President-elect Joe Biden and his consultees have voiced apprehension that President Donald Trump's continued denial to share vaccine data and allocation plans with Biden's adaptation team could cause delays after the next administration takes office on Jan. 20.

Slaoui said he expected a smooth hand-off and did not expect the vaccination effort to be hindered.


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