As the process to develop a COVID-19 vaccine continues at warp speed, Governor Tate Reeves provided Mississippians with an update on the efforts following a recent conversation with President Trump, Vice President Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force.
On the same day that Johnson & Johnson began phase three of its vaccine trials, Governor Reeves relayed the Trump administration’s confidence in the progress that is being made and the safety protocols in place.
After lamenting the role that politics may play in some choosing not to trust the rapid development of the vaccine, the governor stressed that the approval process will not be altered.
“The process in terms of the approvals, while expedited, is no different than any other vaccine that is approved through the FDA. That’s one of the things we want to reiterate to the people of Mississippi, is that if a vaccine gets through the clinical trials, we can have confidence that it has been tested and is safe,” Governor Reeves said.
Later in the briefing, the governor further explained that any company pursuing a vaccine must follow the same peer-review standards and regulations that have been in place prior to President Trump’s election in 2016.
“For those individuals who are trying to argue that this particular vaccine, because we have a particular person that is president, should not be trusted, that doesn’t make any sense to me at all,” he said.
Governor Reeves expressed that he plans on taking the vaccine when it becomes available. When that may be is still up in the air. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said that while it all depends on the trials, he anticipates that a vaccine could be available on a gradual basis (at-risk populations, healthcare workers, etc.) in early 2021 before becoming widely available to the public.
Additionally, both Dobbs and Reeves recommended that everyone get a flu shot to prevent added stress on the state’s healthcare system and to lessen the chance that you simultaneously catch the flu and COVID-19.
“You could have both at the same time, and there’s evidence from China that if you have both of them, your illness may in fact be worse,” Dr. Dobbs said.
Also during today’s briefing, MEMA Executive Director Colonel Greg Michel announced that the agency has purchased a 103,000 square foot warehouse that will house the state’s stockpile of PPE.
“While this facility will be an immense asset to the state’s COVID-19 response, MEMA’s vision for the logistical operations center extends past the pandemic. In the future, the facility will serve as a permanent space to hold disaster response and relief supplies in addition to emergency management equipment. It will also be the permanent location for MEMA’s procurement and allocation branches. Overall, this new facility will help support MEMA’s future growth in all aspects of the agency’s operations,” Michel said.
The warehouse was purchased using $2.36 million of Mississippi’s CARES Act funding.