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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

All of a sudden, it feels like we're hurtling toward a coronavirus vaccine — with the first doses potentially being administered before the 2020 election.

Why it matters: The question of whether politics influence the Trump administration's actions looms larger than ever. Just as important is the question of whether we'll be ready for this complicated effort in less than two months.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged governors last week to do everything possible to get vaccine distribution sites operational by Nov. 1, McClatchy reported Wednesday.

  • A few hours later, the New York Times published CDC guidance on how to distribute early doses of two vaccines, including who should receive priority.
  • The vaccines, described as "Vaccine A" and "Vaccine B," match the descriptions of vaccines being developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which are furthest along in clinical trials. Both require two doses and must be stored at sub-zero temperatures.

What they're saying: "This timeline of the initial deployment at the end of October is deeply worrisome for the politicization of public health and the potential safety ramifications," epidemiologist Saskia Popescu told NYT. "It's hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine."

The bottom line: None of the logistical hurdles in vaccine distribution are insurmountable, in theory. But the U.S. has a dismal track record so far with even moderately difficult problems during this pandemic.

Go deeper

Dec 12, 2020 - Health

FDA authorizes Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine, the agency announced on Friday night.

Why it matters: It's a major milestone in the U.S. fight against COVID-19, clearing the way for the initial rollout of a vaccine that has been found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects.

Meadows hints FDA chief's job is in jeopardy over coronavirus vaccine

Hahn at a Senate hearing Sept. 23. Photo: Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows hinted to Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn on a phone call Friday that his job security might be in jeopardy as he pushed the FDA chief to approve Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine by the end of the day, according to two sources familiar with the call.

Why it matters: It's one more example of the White House putting political pressure on the FDA to expedite its green light on a coronavirus vaccine.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker