When the U.S. approves a Covid-19 vaccine, millions of doses will need to be transported and distributed across the country in stages

A participant in a Covid-19 vaccine trial receives a dose of the vaccination in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13, 2020. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images












There are still 11 vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials — no change from last week. One more vaccine was approved for limited use in Russia on Wednesday, bringing the global total of limited-use vaccines to six.

Pfizer won’t seek vaccine approval before November: The CEO of Pfizer said on Friday that the company would not apply for emergency authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine before the third week of November, ruling out a vaccine before Election Day on Nov. 3. Though the company could have preliminary data by the end of October on the vaccine’s effectiveness, it would still need time to collect safety and manufacturing data.

Assuming the data is positive, Pfizer says it will apply for Emergency Authorization Use in the U.S. soon after the safety milestone is achieved.

Johnson & Johnson pause vaccine trial. On Monday Johnson & Johnson, one of the front-runners in the Covid-19 vaccine race, paused its trial due to “an unexplained illness in a study participant,” STAT News reported. The company’s phase 3 trial started in September and will include up to 60,000 participants. As the Coronavirus Blog previously noted, pausing trials because of unexpected illness is a good thing: It means the trial’s data and safety monitoring board is doing its job.

Big Tech cracks down on anti-vaccination. On Tuesday, Facebook said it would ban anti-vaccination ads from its platform — a significant about-face for the company, which has avoided censoring controversial content in the past, the New York Times reported. YouTube followed suit on Wednesday, saying it would remove any videos containing misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. As Reuters reported, any YouTube content containing claims about the Covid-19 vaccine that contradicts the consensus of local authorities or the World Health Organization will now be banned.

Russia approves another vaccine for limited use. On Wednesday, Russia announced that it had granted regulatory approval for a vaccine from the Vector Institute called EpiVacCorona, bringing the number of limited-use vaccines approved by the country to two. Russia, controversially, does not require the same rigorous three-phase trials required by the United States before granting approval to a vaccine. According to NPR, clinical trials have not yet begun for EpiVacCorona. In a televised news conference, Putin said early tests of the vaccine on 100 participants were successful.


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When the U.S. approves a Covid-19 vaccine, millions of doses will need to be transported and distributed across the country in stages. It’ll be a huge effort — likely the biggest vaccine distribution effort in U.S. history. To do the job, the White House has contracted a company called McKesson Corporation. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated McKesson Corporation’s role in documents outlining the White House’s vaccine distribution strategy.

This isn’t McKesson Corporation’s first vaccine-distribution rodeo. The company, founded 187 years ago and the seventh-largest U.S. company in terms of revenue in 2019, was also responsible for managing the distribution of the H1N1 vaccine to as many as 90,000 sites across the U.S. during the 2009 swine flu outbreak. At the time it was the biggest public health initiative in the history of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The company has also had an existing contract with the CDC to distribute childrens’ vaccines since 2016, and its role in distributing vaccines during the pandemic is based on that contract. Its success during the H1N1 epidemic bodes well for Covid-19 rollout, but U.S. …

Ascathing look at the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator. Science has published a feature story on how White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx has chipped away at the CDC’s ability to monitor the Covid-19 pandemic, begging with removing surveillance data from under the agency’s purview. Writer Charles Piller reports:

“Why are they not listening to us?” a CDC official at the meeting recalls thinking. Several CDC staffers predicted the new data system would fail, with ominous implications. “Birx has been on a monthslong rampage against our data,” one texted to a colleague shortly afterward. …

s Jmes Surowiecki reports for Marker, gyms, restaurants, and movie theaters are all reeling because “demand shock” is killing the economy. He writes:

Consumer anxiety over the continued spread of the pandemic is holding back the recovery by making it impossible to get back to business as usual. In the spring, the economy was crushed in large part by the lockdowns and restrictions imposed by states, which created what economists call a supply shock: businesses literally could not supply goods and services, because they were shut down.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Herd immunity has received significant attention since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several countries hoped that herd immunity would offer protection against the virus, and some even went so far as to loosen restrictions to allow for the natural spread of the virus. In an open letter published today in The Lancet, dozens of health officials publicly criticized herd immunity approaches to slowing Covid-19 as flawed and dangerous.

Herd immunity relies on an adequate number of immune individuals within a population such that a pathogen is unable to spread. Beyond that, herd immunity differs widely from one disease to another. Vaccines offer a powerful example of how herd immunity can control the spread of a disease. …