The Curse of Covid-19
- Global pandemic.
- Nationwide lockdowns.
- Day-night curfews.
- Stay home.
- Wear a mask.
- Social distancing.
The only word left on the list is ‘Vaccination’ for every human being.
The COVID-19 outbreak disrupted the world, challenged even the best of health care infrastructures, and transformed lives with the new normal. Since the novel coronavirus emerged, it affected the habitat of human civilization of the entire planet in the most drastic ways. However, the gloomy days will be over soon.
Vaccine – A Life-inducing Potion
Pharmaceutical companies and organizations involved in the research and development of vaccines have pulled every possible string to come up with the most effective solution to eradicate the pandemic. Once the health authorities approve the vaccine and after successfully completing all the stages of the trial, the government has formulated a plan to vaccinate Americans in a phase-wise manner.
The United States of America and European countries have signed contracts with several vaccine-developing companies, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, CureVac, and more, to secure billions of doses for the entire population.
Although it was a huge challenge to come up with an anti-viral vaccine for Covid-19 in such a short time, when it usually takes years of tests and trials before releasing a vaccine, the bigger challenge for the countries across the world will be the distribution and administering it out to the population.
The Plan – Delivery, Distribution, and Vaccination
There are two vaccines authorized and recommended in the United States. Other than these two, a few more vaccines are in development and will have clinical trials before they start large-scale manufacturing. When it comes to vaccinating millions of people, manufacturing very large quantities of vaccine will take time.
Pfizer and Moderna, the two pharmaceutical giants, revealed that their Covid-19 vaccines were 95% effective in protecting the human race from coronavirus infection. To speed up the vaccine release, Pfizer applied to the F.D.A. for quick approval, and Moderna followed the application process a little while after.
The United States initiated the vaccination program to start immunizing a few groups from December 12th onwards after the F.D.A. completed the vaccine review.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention that released COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, announced which groups should receive the vaccine first.
As speculated, the group includes frontline health care professionals who have been hit hard by the viral pandemic. They will be vaccinated first.
The federal government oversees a centralized system to order, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines are ordered through CDC and vaccination providers will receive vaccines from the CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.
CDC makes vaccine recommendations for who should be offered COVID-19 vaccine first, and each state has its own plan to prioritize, distribute, and allocate vaccine. As more vaccines are authorized for use in the United States and the supply of vaccines increase, several thousand vaccination locations will be available such as doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
Combined research conducted by Kaiser Health News, the British newspaper, and The Guardian, revealed that due to the highly contagious COVID-19, more than 1400 frontline health care workers have lost their lives in the U.S. alone, out of which, one-third of them were nurses. Even after several months of the outbreak, they are still experiencing exhaustion and fatigue due to the rising number of cases every day.
The US government initiated Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership, to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Its head of administration Dr. Moncef Slaoui said, “Once the F.D.A. approves the vaccine, within 24 hours the doses will be sent to the states for distribution. In the next 24 hours, people will start receiving the vaccine”.
By January 2021, for about 22.5 million American citizens, sufficient vaccine doses will be available to inject two doses within a gap of a few weeks. With the help of Operation Warp Speed, the vaccines will be delivered to the states based on the population. However, it is up to the states to plan and distribute it efficiently.
Vaccine Storage and Distribution is Not Easy
The vaccine development facilities of the two biopharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are located in the United States and some parts of Europe. Thus, storage and shipping will not pose any major challenges, as compared to shipping the doses to other less affluent countries. According to Pfizer, the vaccine needs to be stored in ultra-cold refrigerators maintaining -80 degrees Celsius. This is something that will be a hindrance in the availability of vaccines in the Asian and African regions.
When it comes to the global distribution of vaccines, resources of mammoth scale would be required. DHL, a worldwide shipping organization, estimated that to distribute coronavirus vaccines to the entire world, around 15000 airplanes would be needed.
Vaccination by Home Care Providers?
Yes, that’s a viable solution to include the home care workforce in vaccinating the elderly population. As per the American Academy of Home Care Medicine, approximately 2 million elders are permanently confined to their homes.
It is out of the question for seniors to visit medical facilities or drive-thru clinics to get vaccinated. They are assisted by in-home caregivers in performing everyday routines and taking care of their essential needs. It will be very difficult to transport them outside of their home to get their vaccine shot.
However, there is a huge workforce of non-medical home-based care providers in the form of agencies and caregivers that operates to provide care to seniors aging in place. Industry experts believe that it will be wise to utilize this pool of workforce by training them to administer the vaccine to the patients in the comfort of their homes.
This epidemic has been devastating to the world’s economy. However, it brought countries together in fighting and winning over for the very survival of humanity. The world has changed forever. We are not certain how the world would behave and what the future will hold for us 10-20 years post-vaccination.
The least we could do is remain hopeful for a better tomorrow and a safer world!