Monday, October 19, 2020

Vaccine Rollout: "Looming Questions" and Good Advice

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Society

Ed Hessler

--Expect snafus. Expect confusion. Despite the best of intentions and months of painstaking planning to figure out how to get vaccines to people in an ethical order, doing so is going to be a gargantuan and sometimes messy threats.--Helen Branscomb and Ed Silverman, STAT

Good advice. Keep it tucked away when the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is announced, begins and is ongoing. Pundits will have lots of "raw meat" providing them calories to fuel their "this is what should have..." machines.

Branscomb and Silverman have an essay in STAT on some of the problems ahead and hurdles which "might complicate this very important effort. There are also some that will remain unknown until we are in the thick of it. So it is and ever will be. Here are a few of known questions.

--How do you define high-risk health workers? Essential workers? Settling on the groups of people who should be at the front of the line for vaccines is a challenging enough task. But interpreting the broad directions that distribution guidances  lay out is a tougher one still.

--High-risk medical conditions push you to the front of the vaccine line. How do you prove you have them when you get there? A number of medical conditions put people at higher risk of having severe Covid disease, regardless of their age.

--How do you vaccinate special populations when there are little or no data on how the vaccines work for them?Children and teenagers are pretty much at the back of the line for Covid-19 vaccines. That’s probably a good thing.

--How widely can Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine be used, given its taxing storage requirements? Before any vaccine can start being rolled out, manufacturers have to be able to produce enough doses and get the vaccine where it needs to go.

--How will Pfizer and BioNTech’s ordering system affect the potential rollout of its vaccine?An additional constraint of Pfizer’s vaccine relates to how much you have to order if you’re going to use it.  The smallest possible order is 975 doses.

--With air travel slowed, can vaccines get where they need to go quickly?The pandemic has dramatically slowed down commercial air traffic, which the pharmaceutical industry has long relied on to shuttle their products around the world....

--How can officials keep a highly coveted resource safe from theft — and prevent counterfeits?Any Covid-19 vaccine will be extremely valuable — and as such, at high risk of being stolen.

Each of these is explained and discussed in this recent reporting which you can read and think about.




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