Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday that he expects a coronavirus vaccine to be available for vulnerable Americans by January 2021.

The Health and Human Services secretary said vaccines will be immediately offered to seniors, health care workers, and first responders once hospitals are able to administer them, according to The Hill. Azar’s comments came at a press briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters.


“There is hope on the way in the form of safe and effective vaccines in a matter of weeks or months,” Azar said, The Hill reported. “We expect that we would have by end of this year enough vaccine that is FDA-authorized to be able to vaccinate the most vulnerable individuals.”

He continued: “By end of January, we’d expect we’d have enough to vaccinate all seniors, as well as our health care workers and first responders.”

Azar added that more Americans will have access to the vaccine by April, according to The Hill.

President Donald Trump has insisted that a vaccine could be produced before the Nov. 3 election, in which his handling of the pandemic could be a major issue for voters. Nine biopharmaceutical executives whose companies are developing coronavirus vaccines signed a joint statement on Sept. 8 reassuring the public of their commitment to producing a safe vaccine.

“We, the undersigned biopharmaceutical companies, want to make clear our on-going commitment to developing and testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in accordance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles,” the statement said.

The U.S. government has given significant funding and resources to pharmaceutical companies since March as part of Operation Warp Speed, the multiagency effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine quickly. The goal of the operation has been to produce 300 million doses of “safe and effective vaccines” by January 2021.

Trump declared a national emergency in March as the coronavirus spread rapidly around the world.

HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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