Coronavirus vaccine producer executives say distribution would start 'hours' after approval

Pfizer's vaccine has already been approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom

Executives for three companies producing coronavirus vaccines said in an interview Thursday they would try to start distributing doses immediately after their vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“We are aiming hours within the approval, after the approval to be able to distribute,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told NBC’s Lester Holt in a “Dateline” episode that aired Thursday.

Moderna President Stephen Hoge said his company has partnered with Gen. Gustave Perna and his team at Operation Warp Speed. “I’ve been told they want trucks rolling within hours, if not a day,” he said.

Perna said in a White House briefing late last month that the distribution of the vaccine would be trusted to the private sector.

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Scientists with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have worked for the last several months to develop the vaccines, a process that usually takes years.

"What's really the ingredient that's been taken out over the course of the past year is some of the financial and business caution that normally slows the development of drugs," Hoge said. He added that none of the companies have compromised integrity for the sake of speed. 

Hoge said he felt an “overwhelming sense of relief,” after he found out the effectiveness of Moderna’s vaccine, which has proven to be more than 94% effective in the latest clinical trial.

Pfizer’s was found 95% effective, the company said. 

“We want to ensure the American public that accelerating should not be confused with cutting corners,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said, adding that the companies are following all of the regulatory requirements.

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Pfizer’s vaccine could be approved for distribution as early as next week, paving the way for health care workers and the most vulnerable to begin to be vaccinated in less than two weeks, according to NBC

Moderna’s vaccine could also receive approval soon after Pfizer.

Still, all three said distribution to more than 300 million Americans will be a logistical problem, including the fact that Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.

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The general public may have to wait months in 2021 to be able to receive a vaccine, according to experts.