America could reasonably distribute 100 million doses of Covid-19 shots within 100 days -- effectively starting the vaccination process for nearly a third the U.S. population -- said the nation's top doctor on Sunday.
"The issue of getting 100 million doses in the first 100 days is absolutely a doable thing," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News "Meet the Press."
Fauci said that by invoking the Defence Production Act, President-Elect Joe Biden could help rapidly speed up the so-far underwhelming distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
"The feasibility of his goal is absolutely clear, there’s no doubt about it. That can be done," said Fauci of Biden's plan to get out 100 million doses in 100 days.
Two vaccines are currently available in the U.S., one by Moderna (MRNA) - Get Report and one by Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report and BioNTech (BNTX) - Get Report. Each vaccine requires two shots over a period of several weeks to be fully effective and neither is yet approved for children.
So far, only about 31 million vaccines have been distributed nationwide, with just 13 million actually getting injected into patients' arms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest data. Not even two million people have actually completed their two-dose regimen so far in the U.S.
That slow progress on the vaccine rollout has frustrated much of the nation, according to a new poll by CBS News. Nearly three in five Americans are unhappy with how slowly the vaccines have been distributed, according to the CBS News/YouGov poll.
As vaccines are slowly given out, the total number of people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 is quickly approaching 24 million, according to Johns Hopkins' disease-tracker. Nearly 396,000 people have died. Health authorities in the U.S. and globally, meanwhile, are sounding the alarm over potentially more infectious variants of the virus that are believed to be helping fuel the current surge.
Several countries including India, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico have already granted limited emergency-use approvals for AstraZeneca's shots -- with Brazil giving the go-ahead Sunday, according to Reuters. Unlike the vaccines using messenger RNA technology by Pfizer and Moderna, AstraZeneca's can be stored in temperatures found in normal refrigerators.
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is currently under study in a late-stage clinical trial.
Fauci told "Meet the Press" that the U.S. could see one or both companies' shots getting emergency OKs by the Food and Drug Administration "soon."
"We're going to be meeting with the authorities on that," said Fauci, adding that by "at the most, a couple of weeks" the vaccines' data will likely be shown to the FDA.
"And, they're going to have to get their data and safety monitoring board to look at it to see if it is appropriate to start, you know, essentially putting the package together to get an emergency use authorization. But we're weeks away, not months away, for sure."
Last week, there were reports that the nation's "stock pile" of vaccines had run dry, but Fauci called that a "misunderstanding."