Experts Address 3 COVID-19 Vaccine Concerns
Here are three common concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, including the speed of development, addressed by experts.
Air Date: December 17, 2020
Moderator: Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Featured Guests: Asa Hutchinson, Governor, Arkansas, Dr. Troy Brennan, Chief Medical Officer, CVS, Dr. Kevin Ban, Chief Medical Officer, Walgreens, Wes Wheeler, President, UPS Healthcare
COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed all across the country, with many states starting to open up doses to the general public. This progress is a sigh of relief for the United States and the entire world. The end of the pandemic is finally in sight, and a return to a more normal lifestyle is right around the corner. The rapid development and distribution of these vaccines, however, has caused some curiosities within the general public.
Many people are concerned about the safety of the vaccine because of how quickly it was tested and developed. Others are skeptical that distribution suppliers can meet the demand of the vaccine rollout. Here are three common concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, addressed by experts.
The Vaccine’s Rapid Development Is Due to Scientific Advancement, Not Sloppiness
Many are skeptical about the vaccine because of how quickly it was developed. However, the rapidness was due to a combination of collaboration and scientific developments.
“You have to give Operation Warp Speed credit because they did allow people to go ahead and manufacture without the risk that they would have an unsuccessful vaccine,” said Dr. Troy Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS.
“[The developers] went into the teeth of a pandemic,” he continued. “So there was going to be a large number of cases occurring, which makes it a lot different than other vaccines where the cases would be potentially more sporadic, and you had to do a longer testing period.”
“It's just a matter of an A+ for the technology,” Dr. Brennan noted. “We're taking advantage of tremendous progress in molecular biology over the course of the last 10 years in order to get these in place.”
Pharmacies Are Prioritizing Underserved Communities
There is a fear that undersized communities, often who are most vulnerable to the virus, will not have access to vaccines. Dr. Kevin Ban, chief medical officer at Walgreens, is addressing that fear by building upon their pre-existing systems to help underserved communities.
“In building out our testing sites for COVID, we were very careful to be sure that we were serving both rural and underserved communities,” said Dr. Ban. “Over 70% of our testing sites are in those underserved communities, and our intention is to really lean into that … About 80% of Americans live within five miles of a Walgreens, but that's just not enough. There are areas where there can be great distances.”
“We intend throughout the vaccination program to add mobile testing,” he continued. “We're going to do many off-site clinics, and we're going to do everything we can to be sure that some of the folks who've been hit hardest by the pandemic, people living in vulnerable communities and minorities, get all the resources that they need.”
Supply Chains Are Prepared to Handle Vaccine Distribution
Much like the pharmacies, supply chains and delivery services like UPS have been building upon their infrastructure to prepare for the distribution of vaccines.
“We delivered 24 million pounds of PPE to the U.S. from various places, mainly China,” said Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare. “That gave us a very good insight into how the government was working.”
“We did the clinical trials for Pfizer, [which] gave us a lot of insight about how to handle the vaccine,” he added.
Wheeler and UPS also prepared for logistical challenges, such as the ultracold temperatures the Pfizer vaccine had to be stored.
“We knew very, very early on, especially as we got into the Pfizer trial, that we were going to be needing a lot of cold chain capacity,” Wheeler continued. “We went ahead and pre-invested in a freezer farm, both in the Netherlands and also in Louisville near our command center … We built a dry ice manufacturing operation in Louisville so we can actually make 24,000 pounds a day of dry ice.”