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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking states to expedite the approval process for medical supply company McKesson so it can set up coronavirus vaccination sites by Nov. 1, CNBC has confirmed.
The agency specifically said states may need to waive some licensing and permit requirements that could bog down the process.
“The normal time require to obtain these permits presents a significant barrier to the success of this urgent public health program,” the CDC wrote in an Aug. 27 letter to state governors obtained by CNBC. “CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020.”
CDC Director Robert Redfield noted the licensing waivers “will not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed.”
“Your assistance in helping expedite the issuance of necessary licenses and permits required for the distribution centers to become operational will be critical to the success of this public health effort to mitigate the threat presented by Covid-19,” he said.
The letter comes as drugmakers and public health officials race to find a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year. It also comes as scientists are concerned health officials may be pressured by President Donald Trump to approve a vaccine ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
The U.S., as part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, has invested billions of dollars in six potential vaccines as of last month, including from drug companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, which entered phase three trials. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has said the U.S. could have results from one of the late-stage trials by November or sooner.
–CNBC’s Ryan Ruggiero contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.