A Vaccine By November?

Covid-19 plush from Giant Microbes, photo by Alien Motives

The CDC has issued a request to all state Governors to be prepared to distribute vaccine for the novel coronavirus by November 1 at the latest. The letter was dated August 27 and was first reported by McClatchy news services yesterday morning at 6 AM. Since then, news of the request has spread throughout the news services and social media.

The obvious questions are whether a vaccine can be available by that time, and whether this is being set up as an October Surprise. The answers to those questions are both “yes”, but both come with a giant asterisk beside them.

There are a variety of vaccines in the final stages of testing. Even without access to the World Health Organization’s prospective bank of vaccines, the United States has a number of promising options which should be completing the first phase of the final testing stage in late September and early October. If the government decides to sign off on testing after only one set of successful third stage tests and mass production begins immediately, we could start to see vaccines available to the general public by late October.

In such a case, the Trump administration will obviously use the rapid vaccine development as a campaign issue.

What is important to recognize is that even in that best-case scenario, actual vaccine availability for the general populace will be more scarce than toilet paper two days into the lockdown. A comparative handful of ampoules will be ready in the first few waves, and the people receiving them will be doing so with only a bare minimum of testing having been processed. These doses will be reserved for those who are in the highest risk categories and who can be expected to have relatively healthy systems… most likely, health care workers. In the next wave, the elderly will be the most probable targets of distribution. Then children, in an attempt to restart most schools, before finally being disseminated to the general population.

This will not happen by November 1. It is highly unlikely that it will happen before January 1, 2021 and moderately unlikely that the general populace will have ready vaccine access before March 1, based on multiple projections.

The timing of the letter, combined with the recent pressure the White House has put upon the CDC, makes the release of the instruction highly suspect. It is quite probably a political move.

That said, it is also a valid request. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, the CDC targeted specific at-risk groups for vaccination. The after-action summary explained that due to issues with distribution, 15% of the initially available vaccine could not be provided to potential recipients and three months were required to satisfactorily inoculate 74% of the target group. Early preparation is key for success, and providing guidance on how to prepare is entirely within the purview of the CDC.

It is, in fact, one of many items which were contained within the “Pandemic Playbook” designed by the Obama Administration following the H1N1 outbreak, using work started during the Bush Administration. That plan was scrapped by the Trump Administration, with no replacement available.

The presentation of a vaccine being in existence by early November is a political tool, a cheap bit of smoke and mirrors to fool the poorly informed by confusing the presence of a vaccine with the ready availability of one.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.