The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to prepare for Covid-19 vaccine distribution as soon as late October.
Documents published by the CDC on Wednesday show that vaccines would be made available first, free of cost, to high-risk groups – including healthcare workers, national security personnel and nursing home residents and staff.
The timing could not be more important politically, as an October arrival of the vaccine would come right before US President Donald Trump seeks re-election in November.
“For the purpose of initial planning, CDC provided states with certain planning assumptions as they work on state-specific plans for vaccine distribution, including possibly having limited quantities of vaccines in October and November,” a CDC spokeswoman said.
The news came as a Trump administration official said that the US would not pay $80 million it owes the World Health Organisation and instead direct the money to pay its bill to the United Nations.
The United States plans to leave the Geneva-based WHO on July 6, 2021, after Mr Trump accused it of becoming a puppet for China during the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO has rejected Mr Trump’s assertion.
Under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress, Mr Trump had to give one-year notice of the withdrawal from the WHO and is required to pay what Washington owes for the organisation’s current fiscal year.