For the last 11 months or so, almost every country in the world is battling a single crisis — the coronavirus pandemic. In recent decades, no other crisis has had such a vast global footprint, thanks to our interconnected world. Still, a solution to the pandemic, it appears, will likely come in phases, region by region and country by country. The recent devastating surge in virus cases in the United States and Europe has prompted governments to accelerate vaccine trials and nations are racing against time to be ready with storage and distribution networks.
In the days ahead, global manufacturers are likely to release advance stage vaccine trial data, potentially providing a timeline of approvals and distribution, a task far more challenging and complex than battling the pandemic itself. As cases continue to mount and nations allocate budgets to procure and distribute the vaccine, the global fight against coronavirus is entering a critical phase.
In the next phase, governments are likely to face unpredictable situations as mass inoculation of entire populations in a short period of time that has never been attempted before
This phase will test the resolve of nations, their infrastructure and stretch financial and health care resources. Once the world gets a go ahead for an effective vaccine, this battle will then be fought simultaneously on two fronts — one to fight the surge of new infections and second to administer the vaccine to billions of people.
Among the global contenders, Pfizer, is likely to unveil more data this week after its “extraordinary” encouraging results of final stage trial raised hopes of winning this war. Priced at $40 for two shots, the delivery and administration of this vaccine will require elaborate preparations to build cold supply chains from airports to hospitals.
Huge logistical challenge
These vaccines will have to flown at -75 degree Celsius and must be thawed and injected within five days, a process that will be repeated two times for every individual and will be beyond the reach of many countries. Building deep freeze production, storage and distribution facilities will require huge investment. Other vaccines hopefully may not require expensive handling but mass production, procurement, distribution and administration will be a huge logistical challenge.
Given these challenges ahead, the past 11 months may appear comparatively less challenging as several countries managed to contain the virus by shutting down cities and imposing movement restrictions. In the next phase, governments are likely to face unpredictable situations as mass inoculation of entire populations in a short period of time that has never been attempted before. As vaccine manufacturers enter end stage trials, the governments must utilise this time to get ready for the big task ahead.