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Rochester Hills mayor recaps White House summit on COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 4:17 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 05:11:32-05

(WXYZ) — The country is now potentially days away from putting the rubber stamp on its first COVID-19 vaccine, and the FDA is meeting Thursday to review data from Pfizer, with Moderna shortly behind.

How the shots will be distributed and when they'll be available was the focus of a recent White House summit, and metro Detroit had an important seat at the table.

Related: Here's what lawmakers are planning for the COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett was one of just a handful of mayors invited to the important meeting. He said he's honored to have been invited to this small gathering of federal, state and local leaders Monday at the White House.

The chief focus of the "Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit," he said, was to discuss how best to get the vaccine to those who need it quickly.

“T-minus 24 hours after that approval they want them out on the street and in 96 hours they want what they said shots in the arm," Barnett said.

Related: Metro Detroit counties prepare for COVID-19 vaccine

He's the former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and got a unique glimpse into how Operation Warp Speed will hit the ground once the FDA gives the final green light to a COVID-19 vaccine.

“There was probably only 40 people in the room. I mean it was a pretty small group which is why I was proud to represent Rochester Hills and southeast Michigan.”

President Donald Trump also signed an executive order prioritizing Americans to get the vaccine.

Related: Lansing lawmakers urge CDC to prioritize Michigan in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

“We are very hopeful that the FDA will authorize the Pfizer vaccine within days," he said.

Moderna's is expected to be approved soon after.

President-elect Joe Biden, whose administration will be largely tasked with vaccine distribution, is vowing to make vaccine access a top priority.

"At least 100 million COVID vaccien shots into the arms of American people in the first 100 days. 100 million shots," Biden said.

According to Barnett, Operation Warp Speed will be a military-executed event, but said the summit also focused on partnerships with the private sector.

“You see a lot of competitors on the stage talking about how they work together. CVS and Walgreen working together, FedEx and UPS working together," he said.

Who gets it first and when? Barnett said program distribution will be headed up by the governors of each state. Once vaccines are given the go, they'll be distributed to longterm care facilities and then frontline workers.

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