September 2020, UNITED KINGDOM. The race to develop a coronavirus vaccine is well advanced, and Oxford University scientists and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca see the possibility of being first past the post in September. Victory is only part of the story. Production has to be scaled up, and a distribution plan agreed. That plan begins with deciding who will be first in line to receive the vaccine.
More than 20 companies and research institutes have brought their candidates into human testing at record speed. The United State government’s Operation Warp Speed -- an effort to bring a vaccine to market by January -- is paying out billions of dollars to promising candidates. Moderna, Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Novavax are frontrunners in the race, with investors betting heavily that they will be among the first.
Mike Ryan, WHO Executive Director, sees early 2021 as more realistic point for the first vaccine.
On Jun 18 the organization laid out its rough “strategic allocation.” It would give priority to nearly 2 billion people, lumping together healthcare workers, adults older than 65 or as young as 30 if they are at higher COVID-19 risk because they have cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, or chronic respiratory disease. The body is considering whether race or ethnicity should be a criterion. Black, Latino and Native American communities have been shown to be at particular risk.
Essential workers have been added to the lists of other bodies wrestling with the question of who should be first, raising the tough question of whose work is vital. It can be argued that sanitation workers are as essential as healthcare workers in communities, and teachers and the police also have to be on any such list.
Then the vaccine has to reach its target population with all the means of administering it in place. These include personnel, protective equipment and medical paraphernalia such as syringes and swabs. The coronavirus testing operation can be seen as a dry run for vaccine distribution and administration, its problems offering lessons on what not to do.
Oxford scientists say a vaccine may be widely available by September
The line is forming for a COVID-19 vaccine. Who should be at the front? https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/line-forming-covid-19-vaccine-who-should-be-front
AstraZeneca to supply Europe with up to 400 million doses of Oxford University’s vaccine at no profit (AstraZeneca Jun 2020)
U.S. Government Engages Pfizer to Produce Millions of Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine (HHS Jul 2020)