4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020


Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar talks COVID fatigue and possible vaccine in 1-on-1 interview

Posted at 8:51 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 20:51:43-04

As Covid cases continue to surge, the White House is blaming the spike on lax behavior and coronavirus fatigue.

And in a one-on-one phone interview with 7 Action News' Brian Abel, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar lays out a timeline for when a vaccine will be ready for everyone.

Read a transcript of the full on-on-one interview below:

Abel: Is this where a country like ours should be eight months into this?
Azar: Well Brian, it’s important to look at what’s happening in the United States as well as what’s happening in other western democracies.
We are seeing increases in cases and we believe they are driven by people moving indoors as the weather's gotten colder.
Today, in Western Europe is experiencing new coronavirus cases at 31% higher than the United States per million and they have higher restrictions.

Abel: Keeping the focus here and trying to compare ourselves with ourselves.
Here in Michigan we have a 40% increase in new cases the last 7 days rolling average versus the previous week…
At this point, can we control this?
Azar: So Brian what we’re seeing is as people move indoors we’re getting lax about those basic habits of public health that we know work: Washing your hands, watching your distance, wearing your face coverings when you can’t watch your distance.

Abel: How do you fight that fatigue sir? How do you fight it especially when we’re coming up on this election, there’s tons of campaign events. The president is out with these very large crowds where there is not much social distancing, and I’m guessing that that would be putting a strain on this as well?
Azar: Brian, it’s… The American people can get back to work, they can be back to school back to worship back to health care but also back reengaging in our public and civic life. Our recommendations are the same for any setting.

Abel: There’s a lot of distrust of how well this vaccine will work once there is one on the market, and there is also concern of a lack of use because of that distrust could drag this thing on for much longer once there is a vaccine on the market, so where are we at in terms of that now?
Azar: So we have right now six companies that we have contracted with our invested in with Operation Warp Speed with vaccines. Four are in late stage clinical trials…
There are so many independent checks in this system to ensure that these are science evidence, data based decisions that will be made by career people at the FDA…
We’ll have a vaccine we believe by the end of December, enough for our most vulnerable, by the end of January for our senior citizens, healthcare workers and first responders and by the end of March to early April for all Americans who’d like a vaccine, that’s going to be on a rolling basis of course, those aren’t just single events but as they come off production, they’ll be available through a tightly controlled distribution system.

Abel: So we’re looking at spring for your everyday American who wants to get one of these… how much is it going to cost…
Azar: Well no, Brian, you didn’t listen to what I said there. I said we’re going to be producing tens of millions of doses of these vaccines and as they’re available, quality controlled and available for distribution, each prioritized group will get them by the end of March to early April, that’s when they would have been produced enough for every American who would have liked them, but they’re going to be getting vaccinated as we go.

Abel: What is price point going to be on this?
Azar: Free.

Abel: To everyone including after those priorities including once it’s past the priority to anyone who wants in March and April?
Azar: Free. The United States Government is buying this vaccine. It will be free to the American people. There will be no cost of administration to the American people. There will be no co-payments for the American people. Free.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.