Workers start sending the first U.S. shipments of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, from their manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, following emergency use authorization by the FDA.

On Saturday, Gustave Perna, the army general who serves as chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed, said the first doses of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine will be delivered on Monday. The initial delivery will be completed in all 50 states by Wednesday, he said.

Covid Shot Timeline May Slip by a Few Days as Pfizer Shot Nears

Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for the Defense Department’s Project Warp Speed.Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg

It’s an enormous, historic undertaking that’s already been been marked by confusion and uncertainty. As late as Friday, some states were saying they weren’t sure how many doses they’ll get. There have also been questions about whether the U.S. has ordered enough shots to meet its ambitious distribution schedule moving into 2021.

Perna, dressed in battle fatigues and speaking alone without any preamble from political appointees, compared the moment to D-Day, the Allied invasion of France that marked the turning point in Europe in World War II. “D-Day was the beginning of the end,” he said. “And that’s where we are today.”

The Pfizer shot -- and a similar vaccine from Moderna Inc. that is just a week away from a decision on emergency authorization -- will be in short supply initially.

Only 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered in the first shipment, a fraction of what’s needed to vaccinate health-care workers and nursing home residents, who are atop the priority list. Another 2.9 million are being held back to ensure that the second dose, to be given 21 days later, will be available for people who get the first round. Additionally, half a million are being held as an emergency reserve.

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