I am cautiously optimistic about the current pace of COVID-19 vaccine development and encouraged that a number of drug companies are seeing promising results. Current projections show that we may begin vaccinating the public by the end of this year or early 2021, but it will take hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to effectively curb this virus.
Not all of those doses will be available at once, so difficult decisions will have to be made regarding how to prioritize distribution. That is why the Trump administration must develop a national COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan now.
This plan must take a public health approach with the goals of rapidly ending the pandemic and saving the most lives. To reach these goals, the plan must be fair and effective and prioritize those at highest risk of getting infected and dying from this disease.
It is no secret that mistakes were made by the administration—to put it lightly—in the production and distribution of vital supplies responding to this public health crisis. More than six months into this pandemic, accessing COVID-19 testing and getting timely results are still huge problems in many parts of the country. In many areas, healthcare providers who are risking their lives to take care of COVID-19 patients still do not have enough personal protective equipment and are unable to receive a COVID-19 test or timely results, while low-risk, non-essential workers, like professional athletes, have been able to receive routine rapid testing. Low-risk residents in affluent communities can often get tests after returning from vacation while higher-risk farmworkers who are going to work every day to maintain our food supply chain cannot.