We’ll get out of Covid-19 pandemic faster if you give vaccine less work to do: Researcher

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 20, 2020

A new study suggests that the success of the Covid-19 vaccine will not only depend on its efficacy but also on other factors, including the severity of the pandemic, the public’s interest in getting inoculated, and how fast and widely it can get delivered.

The speculations were put forth in a study published in the journal Health Affairs.

The researchers believe that a large investment is needed to ensure that the approved Covid-19 vaccines can be produced and distributed efficiently. This should be carried out alongside promoting the public’s trust in immunisation.

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Senior author Rochelle Walensky, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), said: “There are lots of ways to think about the effectiveness of a vaccine.”

She collaborated with A David Paltiel, professor of Public Health (Health Policy) at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), and several other colleagues to create a mathematical model.

The model was created to assess how other factors beyond a Covid-19 vaccine’s efficacy might influence how well it thwarts the disease. Those factors included:

― How fast and broadly can the vaccine be produced and administered? Some candidate vaccines pose logistical challenges, such as needing to be stored in ultra-cold freezers or requiring two doses, spaced weeks apart.

― What portion of the population is willing to be vaccinated? National surveys suggest that as few as 50 per cent of Americans say they will receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

― The severity of the pandemic when a vaccine is rolled out. The proportion of infections a vaccine is able to avert is directly related to the public’s willingness to engage in mitigation behaviours, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

Also read: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for older age groups: Study

Paltiel said: “We found that infrastructure will contribute at least as much to the success of the vaccination program as will the vaccine itself.”

He added: “The population benefits of vaccination will decline rapidly in the face of manufacturing or deployment delays, significant vaccine hesitancy, or greater epidemic severity.”

“We’ll get out of this faster if you give the vaccine less work to do,” Walensky concluded.

Published on November 20, 2020

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