Developing A Workable, Safe Vaccine Is Just The First Step In Long, Daunting Distribution Process
“We’re thinking about the vaccine, but what if the vials it is stored in, or rubber stoppers in the vial or the plungers in the syringes become the constraint?” said Prashant Yadav, who studies health care supply chains at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. Experts say it could play out like the ventilator and PPE shortages. Meanwhile, scientists debate the ethics of injecting patients with COVID-19 to further vaccine research.
The New York Times:
Find A Vaccine. Next: Produce 300 Million Vials Of It.
In the midst of national shortages of testing swabs and protective gear, some medical suppliers and health policy experts are looking ahead to another extraordinary demand on manufacturing: Delivering a vaccine that could potentially end the pandemic. Making a vaccine is not easy. More than two dozen companies have announced programs to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, but it may still take a year or more before one passes federal safety and efficacy tests in humans and becomes available to the public. (Sheikh, 5/1)
Infect Volunteers With Covid-19? A Proposal Lays Bare A Minefield Of Issues
In 2016, a team of scientists asked the National Institutes of Health for permission to develop a “human challenge model” for Zika virus infections — a sometimes controversial tool to fast-track research on vaccines and drugs. Under the model, healthy volunteers would be infected in a highly controlled setting. An ethics panel denied the application in January 2017, saying that deliberately infecting volunteers with Zika — which is innocuous to most people but can profoundly damage the brains of fetuses infected in the womb — would pose too much risk to the participants and their sexual partners. More than three years later, other scientists are advocating for human challenge trials to test vaccines against the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 — an infection that is far more dangerous than the one caused by the Zika virus. (Branswell, 5/1)
And the administration sets an ambitious goal for a vaccine —
The Washington Post:
Administration Describes A Dash For A Coronavirus Vaccine That Would Be Available In January
The Trump administration is racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine that could be fielded nationwide by January, U.S. officials said Thursday, as national stay-at-home guidance expired. The January timeline represents a fast pace for vaccine development but still means there would be no fail-safe protection from the novel coronavirus until long after most Americans are likely to have returned to work or school and until after the November presidential election. (Gearan, Sonmez and Werner, 4/30)
Millions Of Coronavirus Vaccine Doses Could Be Available By January, Fauci Says
Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that the ideal plan for a potential vaccine is to ensure it is safe and effective — and can be rapidly scaled up for distribution. Of course, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved a vaccine for the coronavirus. Noting that vaccine trials are still in the early phase, Fauci added that to accelerate production, the companies making the medicine would need to do so "at risk." (Booker, 4/30)