BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards held a media briefing on Wednesday on Louisiana's response to COVID-19 and gave an update on the COVID-19 vaccines that are expected to be distributed by the end of the year.
The governor was joined at the briefing by Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Giroir said that the two vaccines from the pharmaceutical companies Phizer and Moderna appear to be more than 90% effective and appear safe. He said that the vaccines also appear to be 100% effective at preventing serious COVID-19 disease.
Giroir added that the vaccines also appear to work across age spectrum so they will be effective for both the elderly and the young.
Giroir said that the first vaccine from Pfizer goes to a federal advisory board for approval on Dec. 10, while the Moderna vaccine would go before the same board a week later.
He added that both could be authorized by the FDA soon after that.
Giroir said he estimates that 20 million Americans are expected to be vaccinated by end of year and that those will include those who are at high risk such as elderly residents at nursing homes. The next group to receive it would be health care workers.
Giroir said that as more and more high risk individuals get vaccinated, then most Americans could expect to receive a vaccine by May or June of next year.
"Light is at end of tunnel," said Giroir.
He said that the first round of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be around 6.5 million and will be distributed roughly based on the population.
That will be followed by a weekly batch of 3.5 million vaccines.
Edwards then spoke about how allocations of the vaccine will work in Louisiana, though he admitted that did not know exactly how many vaccines the state will get from the first shipment.
Edwards said that for the month of December and the early part of January, the state will be getting the vaccine to the two high priority groups including elderly residents in nursing homes and medical staff including those working in hospitals and other frontline facilities.
He said that the state's "pro rata" allocation is 1.46% of what is available among the state's 64 jurisdictions that will be based on the population above age 18.
The governor said that he estimates that there will be 40,000 doses of the vaccine available in the first week and another 40,000 available in the second week.
He said he expects the Moderna vaccine to be available sometime after that.
Last week, Edwards announced that the state would be taking a step back to a modified Phase 2 due to an aggressive surge of COVID-19 cases across the state.
The step back to Phase 2 focused solely on mitigation measures like reduced capacity for gatherings and places of business.
The mask mandate also remains in place.
The modified Phase 2 is expected to end on Dec. 23.
To see the latest COVID-19 numbers for the state, click here.
You can watch Wednesday's full press briefing below:
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