The entire U.S. population could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by June, and there could be enough doses to immunize the rest of the nearly 8 billion people in the world by early to mid-2022, the Trump administration's vaccine chief said Tuesday.
"Hopefully by the middle of the year, I hope most Americans will have been immunized, which means the level of hesitancy that exists currently will have been decreased because people will have learned more information ... about the vaccine," Moncef Slaoui, chief science advisor for the White House's Operation Warp Speed, told The Washington Post in a livestream interview.
If enough get immunized, he said the U.S. "should have this pandemic under control in the second half of 2021."
Two companies — Pfizer and Moderna — have now applied for emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their coronavirus vaccines, which could be given the green light in just a few weeks. Slaoui said there will be roughly 40 million doses available by the end of the year, which would be enough for 20 million people since both vaccines require two shots per person.
He said that it's "a big number" of doses to manufacture, but it's "a small number compared to the U.S. population and the need we have," adding that people should continue to follow public health guidance, like wearing face coverings and maintaining a physical distance from others in the meantime.
Initial doses will likely be set aside for front-line health-care workers, followed by vulnerable Americans, like the elderly or those with underlying conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, is set to vote Tuesday on who should be prioritized for vaccinations.
"While we're all very excited to have these vaccines coming out, it's going to take a while before the whole population gets immunized," Slaoui said.
Operation Warp Speed is working with six pharmaceutical companies to develop, manufacture and distribute their Covid-19 vaccines. In addition to Pfizer and Moderna, the federal government has supply agreements with AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax for the first doses of their vaccines upon authorization.
Slaoui said Moderna and Pfizer will likely supply between 60 million and 70 million doses by January, which would be enough for at least 30 million people since each one takes two rounds of doses, he said. After January, other vaccines could be added to that mix if authorized by the FDA, adding an additional 30 million and 50 million doses from other companies, he said.
"Very quickly we'll start having more than 150 million doses a month in March, April, May," Slaoui said.
However, a lot more vaccine doses will be required to inoculate nearly 8 billion people around the globe and achieve so-called herd immunity.
Each of the six companies in the operation's portfolio have the ability to manufacture between 500 million and 1 billion doses by the end of 2021, which could supply up to 6 billion doses of vaccine next year.
However, there are other vaccines under development that could help with the supply, he said. As of a Nov. 12 report from the World Health Organization, 48 vaccines were in clinical trials and a total of more than 200 were under development globally.
"That I think is reassuring because between that and the other vaccines being developed, I would hope by early 2022 or middle 2022 most of the world will have been immunized," Slaoui said.
-- CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.