The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to prepare for COVID-19 vaccine distribution -- as soon as late October.
That's according to documents published by the CDC on Wednesday, which 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 couldn't be more important politically, as an October arrival of the vaccine would come right before U.S. President Donald Trump seeks re-election in November.
COVID-19 has killed over 180,000 Americans and counting -- and the Trump administration has poured billions of federal dollars into developing a vaccine.
A CDC spokeswoman told Reuters quote "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."
The country's top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told MSNBC earlier on Wednesday that based on the patient enrollment rate in vaccine trials already underway, there could be enough clinical data to know by November or December that one of the vaccines is safe and effective.
Regulators around the world have repeatedly said development speed will not compromise vaccine safety, as quicker results would stem from conducting parallel trials that are usually done in sequence.
Drug developers including Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer are currently leading the race to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC documents describe two potential vaccine options, which match the profiles of candidates from Pfizer and Moderna.