CDC asks states to be ready for initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution by November
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New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control asks states to be prepared for initial doses of a coronavirus vaccine within a couple of months. That suggests November — just in time for the election. That timing is raising eyebrows among some health experts.
There are dozens of coronavirus vaccines in development, and several in final, large-scale tests. The CDC is telling states to be prepared to distribute limited supplies of one or two of those vaccines to frontline health workers and other priority populations.
Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who sits on the Federal Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee, said it will take time to evaluate the candidates.
“These are two-dose vaccines,” Offit said. “So you have to give dose one, wait a month, give dose two, wait another couple weeks, till you’re fully immune. Then you have to start to accrue cases in the placebo group and the vaccine group.”
Offit said he’d be surprised if a proven-effective vaccine is ready by late October or early November, as suggested by the CDC.
Other health experts are also raising questions, including about whether the timing is politically motivated. Even if an effective vaccine arrives soon, producing and distributing hundreds of millions of doses is likely to take well into 2021.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?
Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.
How has the pandemic changed scientific research?
Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.
What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?
Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”
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