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U.S. Must Face COVID-19 Vaccine Challenges

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May 4, 2020 - Today in the world of coronavirus news –

Besides developing a coronavirus vaccine, the United States must also figure out the best, fastest way to manufacture and deliver a vaccine to the populace, two experts said Friday morning during an Infectious Diseases Society of America media briefing.

“Vaccines don’t save lives. Vaccinations save lives,” said Walter A. Orenstein, MD, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “When first licensed we won’t have 7 billion doses the next day to vaccinate the whole world.”

Orenstein said the government should “incentivize” manufacturers to start making vaccines while a vaccine is still going through clinical trials, so that the vaccine could be quickly put into use after approval. But if the vaccine fails the trials, the product would have to be destroyed, he said.

“We need to be thinking about those issues now,” Orenstein said.

Another challenge is figuring out who gets the vaccine first.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will decide that, he said, but he thought that essential workers, people suffering the most like the elderly and people identified as “transmitters” would most likely be at the top of the list.

Kathryn M. Edwards, MD, the scientific director at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program in Nashville, said the United States already has a system in place to deliver vaccinations to children that could help develop a system for the coronavirus. The U.S. also has experience providing vaccines for the Ebola pandemic in West Africa, she noted.

She said another question that must be addressed is whether the coronavirus vaccine will be a one-time event for a person, or whether the virus is mutating and will require follow up shots with different vaccines.

At all times in the development process, safety must be emphasized, Edwards said. “We want the vaccine but we want a safe vaccine,” she said.

Both Edwards and Orenstein said one of the bright spots in developing the vaccine is that a lot of testing is under way. Orenstein said the World Health Organization reported eight vaccines are now in clinical trials with 94 in pre-clinical trials.

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 04, 2020


Infectious Diseases Society of America media briefing, May 1, 2020

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