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Coronavirus Vaccine Supply: What’s Taking So Long?
People throughout the world are wondering when this nightmare will end, and the biggest, brightest glimmer of hope we have are the vaccines that are becoming available.
We’ve been hearing about these vaccines so much in the last few months, and now the one question remains: “What’s taking so long?”
While there are several reasons the rollout is going at a slower pace than planned, vaccine supply is a big factor.
Let’s talk about the future of the vaccine, what’s slowing it down, and what there is to do about it.
Vaccine Supply Delays
If you’ve been trying to keep up to date with the vaccine, you’re not alone. While there are good resources to follow, it is confusing with changing and conflicting news all over our social media feeds.
Either way, you’ve surely heard that there is a delay on the vaccine.
The good news is that more than 14 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been sent out across the US.
The bad news is that, according to the CDC, only 2.8 million people have received their first dose. However, that number may be on the low end due to a lag in reporting.
There are a lot of reasons for the delay. Some of it is very simple, like the way it’s manufactured. However, there are a few steps from the lab to your arm.
These vaccines need to be manufactured in large quantities if the world is going to be able to develop the kind of herd immunity needed to overcome the pandemic. Manufacturing poses a lot of challenges to that.
Vaccines work by helping your body develop the antibodies you need to fight off a virus.
In the case of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, they have to manufacture DNA that encodes instructions for your cells to make the proteins on the surface of the virus. This allows your immune system to defend against further attacks from the virus.
Pfizer is currently only able to make 40 liters of this a week, which is enough for up to 10 million doses. While that is a lot, there are billions of people in need of the vaccine. They are expected to double their production in the coming months.
Currently, both Pfizer and Moderna are committed and on track to meet their promised 200 million doses by the end of June. However, this comes with complications.
As you’ve likely heard, these vaccines need to be stored at extremely low temperatures. This poses a challenge to the distribution process.
Transportation is an obvious challenge. Refrigerator trucks and other modes of travel need to be running at -70 degrees celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit).
There are so many hospitals and clinics in need of this vaccine around the world, and not enough of them have the equipment necessary to keep the vaccines at the necessary temperature. However, that’s only the beginning of the challenges for hospitals.
Finally, once hospitals have the vaccine, they can begin to administer them. This isn’t working consistently throughout the country for many reasons. Part of it is that the rules aren’t clear.
The phases are another challenge. If doses are being made for a specific population, like healthcare workers, and nobody else can get it, it runs the risk of excessive waste.
These vaccines expire very quickly when they are out of the extreme cold they require, and hospitals do not have consistent policies on this. In fact, a Houston doctor was fired for administering vaccines to the public that were only hours away from going bad.
The final challenge to getting everybody vaccinated is simply that people are refusing to take the vaccine. This poses a major health risk to that portion of the population. The best way to overcome this obstacle is education on how safe the vaccine actually is.
Short expiration periods, hospital administration issues, distribution challenges, and many other concerns all pose significant barriers to the vaccination process.
With everything considered, it is truly amazing that they are on track to reach the goals they set months ago.
Part of the problem is that only Pfizer and Moderna are allowed to make their own prospective vaccines in the US. While they do have some outside help, there needs to be more hands-on-deck.
Luckily, Johnson & Johnson is looking to get approved for emergency use of their newest vaccine, with similar effects and challenges to the existing ones. This, if approved, can drastically speed up the process. In this case, the more, the merrier.
There’s one final challenge. The vaccine is not a “one and done”. There are two doses that need to be taken within a specific time frame in order to be effective. Requiring a second dose, along with all the other challenges we’ve discussed, does require extra coordination for distributors, hospitals, doctors, and recipients.
What To Watch For
With all of the challenges involving our vaccine supply, it is important that we all keep our heads up. The best thing we can do right now is to educate ourselves about the vaccine and keep up to date with new information as it comes out.
New companies and countries developing vaccines are excellent news for the world, and it offers us a way out of this catastrophe that has taken so many lives.
If you’re itching to get the vaccine, follow us to keep up to date and check out our other products you might need!