As government officials scramble to keep the optimistic vaccination headlines coming in an attempt to try and get Americans as eager to take the coronavirus vaccine as possible (for what it's worth, some public opinion polls suggest that strategy is working), DHHS Secretary Alex Azar took to ABC's "This Week" on Sunday to advise Americans that the FDA could approve Pfizer's mRNA vaccine in a matter of days.
That is, assuming this week's meeting of the FDA advisory committee, set to begin Monday, doesn't turn up any unanticipated snags. Azar added that whatever happens, the analysis will be conducted according to the FDA's "gold standard" process, possibly a reference to Dr. Fauci's criticism of the Brits for their "rushed" emergency approval.
"If things are on track, the advisory committee goes well, I believe we could see FDA authorization within days," Secretary Alex Azar told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday. "But it's going to go according to FDA gold-standard processes, George, and I'm going to make sure it does."
Asked if there was any chance the vaccine might not be approved this week, Azar demurred: "I'm going to defer to the FDA career scientists on this."
"I'm going to protect the independence and integrity of that decision making," he added. "I don't know of any reason why the system is in any way off track."
As the timeline continues to creep closer as officials perhaps get a little carried away with their optimism, Azar told ABC that by the beginning of the second quarter, there will be enough vaccine doses available across the US for "any American who wants one".
Azar added that the Trump Administration is "quite concerned" about the pandemic's post-Thanksgiving trajectory, and urged all viewers to be careful to social distance and wear masks when they're indoors. But the administration has "complete visibility into our hospital capacity."
"We're on a forward footing, George," he also told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. "We have complete visibility into our hospital capacity. We're making sure they've got supplies and staffing regulatory flexibilities that keep the highest acuity patients in the hospital let others be serviced at home."
Watch the clip below: