THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me — let me let — let me let people hear from the experts first, and then I’m — I’ll make a few comments before we hear from all of the heroes here at Catalent about the great role that they’re playing.
But I’ll just take 30 seconds to say to you, Governor Holcomb, thank you for your steady leadership over the last 10 months. As Vice President, but as a fellow Hoosier, I’m grateful to you grateful to you, grateful to your administration in the way that you put the health of Hoosiers first.
And I’m also incredibly proud to be here at Catalent, a company 2,000 strong. And I just saw all the pride on the people working in those laboratories, preparing vaccines that could well be approved before the week is out, that’ll go to millions of Americans beginning with our healthcare workers and with those most — most susceptible to the worst outcomes of the coronavirus.
So it’s a day of — an opportunity for us to say thank you. But we’re also here for an update on the progress of Operation Warp Speed on the ground here in Indiana, with our private partners but also with your administration.
And Governor and Alessandro and all the team here at Catalent, just thank you for your role. I look forward to our discussion. But maybe a few thoughts from where we stand and with regard to vaccines, but also in our overall response to the pandemic.
Dr. Robert Redfield has led the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention with great distinction throughout this pandemic and in this administration, and I’m delighted to have him along today.
DR. REDFIELD: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. And I want to add my thanks to all of the employees at Catalent for all that you are doing to ensure that the Americans have access to this vaccine.
CDC has worked 24/7 to confront this pandemic. And a critical part of that work has been planning for vaccine distribution and, more importantly, for actual vaccination, where vaccine can get into the arms of people.
We’ve worked with all 64 jurisdictions to help them develop what we call the “micro-distribution plan” that actually operationalize vaccination, which, again, we began yesterday.
And I just want to acknowledge, Governor: Your public health team has really been a great team to work with. They put together -one of the strongest plans that we had in this country — is we’ve gone through the 64 jurisdictions, and you should be quite proud of them.
The first Americans, as you know, were vaccinated yesterday. CDC continues to try to develop material that’s going to help us as we move through the task that we have before us to ensure that all Americans who want to get vaccinated can get vaccinated. We’re developing vaccine clinical questions and answers. We’re giving summaries and important information related to storage and handling of the vaccine and how to track the vaccine. We basically are developing public webpages on each of the vaccines to help guide the public.
We’ve developed a hotline for clinicians when questions arise. I think we had an open line yesterday, and my team told me there was 186,000 people that were on that line to ask questions. And we’ve established a new smartphone app so that there can be bidirectional discussion about any side effects that may be occurring with the vaccine, with the volunteers that have developed the vaccine — because obviously monitoring for adverse reactions is very, very important.
But I want to say that I’m extremely confident, because of the jurisdictions’ hard work — such as been done here in Indiana — and their dedication, that this vaccine program is going to be successful. And we will continue with each jurisdiction until we get the vaccine to all people.
I would like to take one moment just to focus on what I see the greatest threat that we have right now. It’s not technology. It’s not the, I’ll say, miraculous reality that a vaccine — two vaccines were developed in less than a year. It’s really being aggressive in our unity to confront vaccine hesitancy. We all play an important role in that. Governor, your leadership is really important in that. We need to reinforce a culture of what I call “vaccinate with confidence.”
Vaccines are the greatest gift that modern science has given to medicine. And it’s really tragic when they’re left on the shelf for an individual or family or the community. So I know we can all work together to continue to improve this culture of vaccine — vaccination with confidence.
And these vaccines really offer an additional tool that we need to bring to the pandemic, to end it. As the Vice President commented, we’re still in the midst of it. This is going to be a tough two, four, six, eight, twelve weeks.
So, again, we need to double down on our commitment and vigilance for the mitigation steps that we know can confront this outbreak: the wearing of masks, social distancing, washing our hands, being smart about crowds, doing things outside rather than inside, maintaining ventilation. These strategies really do work. We have them at our — at the grasp of our hands. We need to embrace them as we begin to see the ultimate light at the end of the tunnel as we apply the vaccine to finally put this pandemic behind us.
So I want to thank you. I want to thank you for all you do. I want to thank you for your leadership. And I want to thank the people here for all they’re doing to bring this vaccine to the American public.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Dr. Redfield. And before we get a report from the ground, here at Catalent, let me just bring a few remarks of gratitude and appreciation. You know, as Governor Holcomb just said, we have gone through a season that has wearied the American people. But as the Christmas holiday approaches, this is always a season of hope, but I think that’s especially true this year. Because after months of hardship, yesterday, under Operation Warp Speed, we made history with first coronavirus vaccine being administered in states all across this country.
It is — it is remarkable to think because of the kind of science that is practiced right here at Catalent — researchers, scientists, federal officials, state health officials working in combination — the development and the manufacture of a vaccine, the experts here will no doubt confirm, usually takes between 8 and 12 years. We are on track not only to develop and manufacture, but distribute a vaccine between 8 and 12 months. It is a medical miracle. And it is in every sense a tribute to American ingenuity and American innovation.
We have come to the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic in America. But as I expect you will hear from our panel and you continue to hear, we have a ways to go. It’s one of the reasons why, yesterday in our weekly conference call with all of America’s governors, we talked about the importance of effective use of therapeutics. And here at Catalent, you also performed the kind of fill-finish that’s been distributing critical therapeutics, even those developed here at Eli Lilly in Indiana — therapeutics that have been on the scene since last summer and literally are saving lives every day.
But beyond that, all of us have a role to play. And I want to thank Governor Holcomb for your steady leadership, the counsel of your health officials. I want to thank the support of — the likes of state Senator Eric Cook, who is with us today, and the leadership in the General Assembly.
I also want to thank Mayor John Hamilton, here in Bloomington, and for the leadership that’s continued to give people a reminder that even while we — even while we see light at the end of the tunnel — and even maybe before the end of this week, the FDA could give emergency use approval to the very vaccines that we just saw being loaded into vials here at Catalent: the Moderna vaccine — that all of us would do well to go back to basics.
We see cases rising in many places around the country, particularly on the coasts at this time. We see hospitalizations rising. And worst of all, we’ve seen heartbreaking losses over the course of the year and in recent days.
And so we just want to remind every Hoosier, as the Good Book says, don’t become weary in doing well, because in due time, you’ll reap a harvest, and it’ll be a harvest of good health in our country.
So, Bob, we all know the basics, don’t we? It’s wash your hands; practice good hygiene; practice social distancing; when you can’t or otherwise indicated in a facility like this, wear a mask. I mean, put the health of your family, your neighbors first.
And I’m more confident than ever that, given the extraordinary innovation that we’re witnessing today, and given the extraordinary implementation under my fellow Hoosier, the Secretary of HHS, through Operation Warp Speed, we’re literally — we’re literally going to watch, in the days ahead, the distribution of tens of millions of safe and effective vaccines to the American people.
Before the end of this week, I am told that the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed in the total of 2.9 million doses to the American people. And as we learned traveling through Catalent’s hallways today, pending the approval from the FDA, that some 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine could be shipped right from this facility out to the point of the need in states across the country.
And I’m proud to report to each one of you that Operation Warp Speed has not just been about researching and developing vaccines, it’s not just been about manufacturing vaccines and working with great companies like Catalent that literally fill the vials and distribute them out, but it’s also been working with some of the greatest logistics companies in the world, based here in the United States.
It would be a few short days ago that we traveled to the hub of FedEx, in Memphis, Tennessee. And as we speak, FedEx is literally airlifting and shipping and driving vaccines to literally thousands of locations all across the country under Operation Warp Speed. UPS is doing the same. If that Moderna vaccine is approved, here at Catalent, you’ll be shipping it straight out to our great partner, McKesson.
And I want people to be confident about this process. The CDC — actually, Bob will probably correct me if the number be right, but I think the last time — the last time you told me, that CDC actually oversees the distribution of some 80 million vaccines every year, all across this country. So I want people to be confident that we’ve built Operation Warp Speed and the distribution network that you saw launched over this weekend, resulting in vaccines being administered all across America and here in Indiana just yesterday; that we’ve actually built on top of the existing distribution system. We’ve enhanced it significantly. We’re coordinating it all
at the federal level and the Operation Warp Speed center. But we’ll continue to do all of that.
The last thing I would say to every American is: Be confident that we have cut red tape, but we’ve cut no corners when it comes to the development of this vaccine. I look forward in the days ahead to receiving the vaccine myself and do so without hesitation.
The American people can be confident that while we’ve moved faster than the FDA has ever moved, we have — we have literally not compromised any standard of safety.
And as Dr. Redfield said, today I would submit to you, Bob, that we probably have — we probably have two great challenges: One is to remind — remind the American people that we all continue to have a role to play to do our part to put the health of our neighbors first. But the other is we want to encourage all of our Americans — fellow Americans to be confident about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine.
We — the FDA essentially has the gold standard for approval. And it has multiple layers, as the Governor knows, of independent review for vaccines.
And whether it be the Pfizer vaccine that has been approved for emergency use, or whether it be the Moderna vaccine that’s being put into vials right here at Catalent that may well be approved before the end of this week, I want to assure people all across this state and all across the country that we’ve applied that gold-standard level of review to these vaccines that have proven out to be not just safe, but in both cases some 95 percent effective, which is truly extraordinary. The average flu vaccine is 40 or 50 percent effective. And I always think it’s a good idea to get a flu shot.
The American people can be confident this is safe. But also, having a vaccine — and now two vaccines that are poised, one for approval; one that’s already approved — that have 95 percent effectiveness is — it’s in the — it’s in the range, Bob, I think, of a measles vaccine —
DR. REDFIELD: Yes, sir.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — in terms of its ability to truly prevent the spread. That’s why I said at the top of my remarks, we — this is a medical miracle not just in the amount of time, but also the effectiveness of these medicines.
And even as we speak today, there are fully four vaccines that are in phase three clinical trials. So while Pfizer has been approved, Moderna being loaded right here in Indiana — is just around the corner — there will be more vaccines to come.
And, Mr. Secretary, you just gave the numbers — the staggering numbers that we remain confident are going to be available for this vaccine for the American people.
We have come to the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic. We can see the end from here. But it’s been a marathon this year, and it’s been a marathon of heartbreak for many American families. And so my heart goes out to each and every one of the families in this state. And anyone looking on that may have lost a loved one, know that there’s never been a day that you haven’t been in our hearts and in our prayers.
But to each and every one of us: I encourage you to step forward and be a part of the solution. Encourage neighbors and friends to take advantage of the vaccine every bit as soon as they’re made available. And know that we’re taking the guidance of Governor Holcomb here in Indiana and governors around the country.
We’ve made the vaccine available, but we’ve — we’ve taken a state-managed approach to this pandemic from the very beginning. And so we understand that, here in Indiana, there would be certain priorities and challenges the population would face with vaccinations. So we’ve deferred to not only your governor but to every governor in the country — and states and territories — to tell us where those vaccines will be delivered. And through Operation Warp Speed, we’re delivering straight to the healthcare providers that are making them available.
As I mentioned, we’ve started with healthcare workers, but we’ve also — we’re working with some great retailers — CVS, Walgreens — that’ll actually be administering vaccines in our nursing homes and long-term care facilities. States are signing up for those right now, and we expect those vaccinations to literally begin in the days ahead.
So this is a — this is a day for great hope. It’s a day of great promise. And I just wanted to be here today to get an eyes-on-view of a company that’s playing a critical role.
And Alessandro and Dennis and Scott leading the team here: I hope you’ll just tell the 2,000 men and women working here at Catalent, who I know have put in the long hours and have — I’m told have volunteered for extra shifts to come in, literally working 24/7 to meet this moment in the life of the nation, that on behalf of President Trump, on behalf of myself and every member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, we are proud and grateful for all the dedication and the work of the men and women of Catalent. And we’re going to continue to partner with you until that day comes that we put this coronavirus in the past and we bring our country all the way back and past these challenging days.
So, thank you all very much. And with that, I know the Secretary and the Director and the Governor would certainly welcome a ground report.
And, Alessandro, we’d be happy to start with you. How goes Operation Warp Speed here? How ready is Catalent to surge into this effort of distributing the Moderna vaccine if it’s approved later this week? And how else can we be helpful?
(The roundtable discussion begins.)
(The roundtable discussion concludes.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You’re very kind, Governor. Thank you for your leadership, and thank you for making time for this briefing today.
Scott Nickerson, thank you again. Our best to the whole team at Moderna.
And, Alessandro, it’s an honor to be here with you, and I hope you’ll give the CEO our gratitude and our thanks.
And, Denis, I hope you’ll convey to everybody here, on the ground in Bloomington, how proud we are as fellow Hoosiers, but how grateful I am as Vice President for the role that they’ve played, the long hours they put in, will continue to put in over the coming holiday season, that’s literally going to save lives and change lives in this country. And so just God bless you and all the team here at Catalent. God bless folks at Moderna.
And to all those looking on, we have come to the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic in America, but we all still have a role to play. We encourage everyone within the sound of our voice to be confident that this vaccine, once approved, will be safe and effective. And we want to encourage the American people with that word. We want to build confidence about the use of the vaccine that continues to rise all across the country. We want to reassure people that as we see cases rising and hospitalizations rising, that we’re going to continue to work around the clock to make sure our hospitals have all the resources and the staffing needed to give your family the same level of care that we’d want a member of our family to have.
So we see light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is on the way. But lest I forget to mention it one more time, I just encourage everyone across this state and all those looking on across the country to wash your hands, practice good hygiene, wear a mask whenever it’s indicated or when you can’t social distance.
And I just know that with the cooperation of the American people and with great leadership in states across the country, like Governor Holcomb, and with the dedication of all of our federal health officials in Operation Warp Speed, and with these extraordinary American business partners, we’ll get through this the way the American people always do: We’ll get through this together.
So thank you all very much, and God bless you. (Applause.)
2:44 P.M. EST