Tennessee represented at White House summit on vaccines

Vaccine summit at the White House

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - All eyes are on a COVID-19 vaccine as President Trump says FDA approval is days away. Tuesday in Washington officials from Tennessee were part of an Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit at the White House.

Governor Bill Lee was one of four governors invited to the White House for the summit about the impending vaccines. FedEx Regional President Richard Smith spoke during it about the logistics of shipping the vaccine.

This all happening as we wait for final approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, and as local health officials get ready to release its distribution plan.

Gov. Bill Lee, FedEx take part in White House COVID-19 vaccine summit

The first COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in Shelby County in as little as a week or two. Tuesday President Donald Trump opened a vaccine summit with his projection of when FDA approval could happen.

“We far exceeded what we thought,” said Trump. “Some said sometime next year and if we had said that people would think great. But we got it done long before sometime next year.”

In its latest analyst, federal regulators said the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective in fighting the virus. The Shelby County Health Department said when that vaccine is approved it will go to local hospitals first.

“The health care systems will receive the healthcare vaccine directly from Pfizer,” said Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph. “The health department will receive the Moderna vaccine sometime shortly after that.”

Memphis is playing a big role in distributing the vaccine across the country and possibly even the world. At the vaccine summit Tuesday, FedEx Regional President Richard Smith said the company will be able to handle shipping the vaccine even in the middle of the holiday shipping season.

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“FedEx Surround is a new platform we launched with Microsoft,” said Smith. “It uses that data we generate every day to give us predictive analytics so if that package is in danger of failing they can jump into action before a failure occurs.”

Shelby County health officials said the local prioritization of who gets the vaccine first will follow state guidelines meaning health care workers and first responders will be the first to get the vaccine.

“You can expect all of the first two shipments will be targeted to that group as they are at highest risk,” said Doug McGowan with the City of Memphis.

At the summit, Lee said it will take 24 to 48 hours to inoculate the first 100,000 recipients.

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