A quick Google search will reveal there is plenty of COVID-19 vaccine information out there. Here’s what you need to know today.
1) Different Results From Different Manufacturers
Three pharmaceutical brands have, to date, announced the completion of their COVID-19 Vaccines. However, not all had the same efficacy, or effectiveness, in clinical trials. Nor do they each require the same handling procedures or have the same funding sources. In fact, there may be significant variance. Here’s the breakdown of the COVID-19 vaccine information known today from each manufacturer:
• Moderna: mRNA-1273 is a vaccine against COVID-19 which was co-developed by US-based Moderna and investigators from NIAID's Vaccine Research Center. Their study, known as the COVE study, enrolled more than 30,000 participants in collaboration with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The vaccine, shown to be about 94.5% effective, remains stable for 30 days at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, the temperature of a standard home fridge. For longer-term storage, it remains stable at -20 degrees Celsius for up to 6 months. The company expects to have approximately 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 ready to ship in the US by the end of 2020.
• Pfizer: Pfizer's two-dose BNT162b2 vaccine trial has finished with a 95% success rate. The efficacy of the vaccine was found to be consistent across different age and ethnic groups in its trial of more than 43,000 volunteers. The Pfizer vaccine requires deeper cooling (-70 Celsius degrees) and can keep only up to five days in regular refrigeration.
• AstraZeneca: AstraZeneca and its partner Oxford University released preliminary results from its phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trials, which found that the company’s vaccine, which uses a genetically modified cold virus, is up to 90% effective in trials consisting of up to 23,000 participants. Up to 3 Billion doses could be produced throughout 2021 thanks in part to the more than $1 Billion in funding provided by the U.S. B Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). However, the vaccine has yet to be approved. AstraZeneca’s vaccine can be transported and stored at the same temperatures you might find in a normal refrigerator - between about 36° and 46° Fahrenheit for as long as six months; which may translate to easier access to the vaccine, particularly for developing countries.
2) What is Operation Warp Speed?
Operation Warp Speed is a government-funded multi-agency initiative to fast-track the development of, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 drugs and treatments. 4 Star Army General and professional logistician Gustave Perna leads the effort and recently told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly that if the FDA authorizes a vaccine by December 2020 he believed “..a safe and effective vaccine will be available initially in December. 10 to 30 million doses of vaccine will be available that we can start distributing.” The government will be allocating initial vaccine supplies to states and jurisdictions, which will then be responsible for getting shots into people's arms and determining which groups get priority for those first doses. "Some of the jurisdictions have thought about mass [vaccination] campaigns. Some are going right to brick-and-mortar and working with CVS and Walgreens. Some are going to utilize their hospitals," and the places people can go to get vaccines may shift as more doses become available, Perna says. Additional COVID-19 vaccine information related to Operation Warp Speed can be found on the HHS website.
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3) 2nd Vaccine Dose Criticality Increases Reliance on Patient Education and Reminders
Some of the vaccines to be distributed, such as Pfizer's BNT162b2 require multiple doses, and the ability of the vaccine to protect against infection absolutely hinges on patients getting their second dose. This COVID-19 vaccine information must be readily available and understood by patients to ensure they follow-up with secondary dosing if needed. The CDC is making COVID-19 vaccination recommendations for the US-based on input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) which includes plans to distribute to specific populations first if supplies are limited:
• Healthcare personnel
• Workers in essential and critical industries
• People at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions
• People 65 years and older
Depending on the vaccine used, those patients may require a scheduled 2nd dose or additional testing, as well as remote monitoring of adverse reactions and a delivery mechanism for ongoing education. Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, meatpacking plants, and even Ford Motor Company - which plans to offer vaccination to employees are among the long list of companies ramping up their vaccine delivery and aftercare models. These plans require robust, HIPAA-compliant, patient engagement tools. These tools, driven by AI-technology, will play a pivotal role in helping to manage the distribution of vaccines, public health education, and ultimately the safety of any COVID-19 vaccine. They may include patient-self scheduling and real-time schedule management for follow-up doses, adverse reaction reporting, and engaging peer-reviewed patient education materials, as well as a way for patients to provide employer attestations of vaccination and maintain updates to their medical records.
What Must Be Done To Prepare The Public for the Vaccine
There is some mounting distrust of the available COVID-19 vaccine information in the general public and many people are still uncertain about social distancing, mask-wearing, or even the legitimacy of the virus. The World Health Organization ranked “Vaccine Hesitancy” as one of the Top 10 Threats To World Health in 2019. Citing complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence as key reasons underlying hesitancy. Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisor and influencers of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines, according to WHO.
As a trusted advisor, healthcare organizations are poised to not only distribute the vaccine but also prepare the public with trusted COVID-19 vaccine information and resources.
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