Distributing COVID Vaccine Will Be Major Challenge

TUESDAY, Aug. 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) — As the race to develop a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine unfolds around the globe, experts say the sheer logistics of vaccinating the masses might be even more daunting.

“The challenge we face now is really the largest and most complex mass vaccination program we’ve ever attempted,” Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for immunization education at the Immunization Action Coalition, said during a recent HD Live! interview.

Supplies are already being marshaled to help quickly manufacture and store millions of doses of any successful vaccine, and distribution plans are being crafted to get the vaccine to the people who need it, Moore added.

During the same interview, Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore, said, “Lots of people think once you’ve gotten through the clinical trials, the vaccine is just going to magically appear in doctors’ offices, and that’s not the case. We have to think about the glass you store it in, the rubber stoppers on top, the syringes that you inject it in. We have to think about all of the supply chain elements and anticipate where things might go wrong.”

At this point, it looks like the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines will have a 50% efficacy, he noted. “That means the vaccine gives you a 50% less chance of getting infected than somebody who hasn’t been vaccinated,” Adalja said.

That might sound less than ideal, but it’s no small potatoes when dealing with a pandemic virus that’s killed hundreds of thousands, Adalja said.

“We may not, in this first generation of vaccines, get what’s called sterilizing immunity, but we may get something that modulates the severity of infection, and that would be huge,” Adalja said. “You’re less likely to be hospitalized or less likely to die. Those are still very valuable propositions with the vaccine,” he explained.

“Right now, we need something that keeps people out of the hospital and changes the course of this pandemic, so I think we can really accept something that isn’t the best vaccine but one that is good enough to get us through this acute part of the pandemic,” Adalja continued.

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