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Who will be the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine?
Not only health authorities prepare their proposals, but also ethicists
Who will be the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine? US health authorities hope they will have rough guidelines on the distribution of the first doses by the end of September, but for some they may be annoying..
“Not everyone will like the answer,” said National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, speaking recently to a government advisory group..
“There will be many people who think that they should be among the first,” he explained..
Traditionally, healthcare workers and people from the most vulnerable groups of the population to infection are considered the first in line..
But Collins proposed a new idea – to take geography into account and give preference to the people where the epidemic struck the hardest..
And also do not forget about the volunteers who were injected with placebo at the final stage of clinical trials. A control group was needed to make sure that real vaccines actually work.
Large-scale trials this summer showed that several experimental COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Moderna and Pfizer started trials a few days ago, in which 30,000 volunteers each will take part..
In the coming months, similar trials will be carried out by vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. Some vaccines made in China are in the final stages of smaller trials in other countries.
However, the harsh truth is that even if the vaccine is found to be safe and effective, there will not be enough first shipments for everyone who wants to get it right now. It should be borne in mind, however, that most potential vaccines require a two-step dosing..
This is a global dilemma. WHO is trying to tackle the same issue by trying to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines among poor countries – an even more difficult decision, given that rich countries are ready to buy up the entire volume of the first shipments..
In the U.S., an advisory committee to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tasked with advising on vaccination priorities..
But the decision on the COVID-19 vaccine is so difficult that this time, ethicists and vaccine experts from the National Academy of Medicine were also asked for their views..
Given the overwhelming amount of misinformation about the vaccine and fears that politics could intervene, CDC Director Robert Redfield said the public must ensure that the vaccine is distributed “fairly, honestly and transparently.”.
The CDC has submitted a proposal for its consideration: the first 12 million doses are distributed to health workers, national security workers and other critical services performing high-priority functions.
After that, 110 million people who are at risk will receive the vaccine: people over 65 who live in nursing homes, people of any age in poor health, as well as workers performing important functions. The turn of the rest of the population will come later.
CDC consultants want to know who to count as indispensable workers.
“I do not consider myself a critical health worker,” admitted Dr. Peter Siladhyi, pediatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles..
Indeed, the risks for doctors today are not the same as in the early days of the pandemic. Physicians working in COVID-19 treatment units are often the most protected, but others may be at higher risk.
But does the concept of “prime importance” work, for example, apply to poultry workers or school teachers? What if the vaccine does not work well in vulnerable populations like young people and healthier people? This is a real concern given that the immune system of older people does not respond well to the flu vaccine..
With African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, apart from this diversity, “any recommendations our group makes will be viewed very suspiciously,” said Arkansas interim head of the Arkansas Department of Health, Dr. Jose Romero..