There has been extremely exciting news recently regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. On December 11, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use approval on the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. Vaccinations of the Pfizer vaccine have also started in the United Kingdom and in Canada. It was previously announced by Pfizer and BioNTech that they were planning to deliver 100 million doses, but then lowered the number to 50 millions doses by the end of the year and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
All of this is great news, but there continue to be a few problems with distributing the vaccine. For example, the Pfizer vaccine requires freezing cold temperatures, around negative 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit), and they are using United Airlines to ship across the country and around the world. With these freezing cold temperatures, it means that the shipping containers need to be replenished with dried ice every five days and each container of vaccine doses needs 50 pounds of dry ice. It is up to local governments and hospitals to make sure these vaccines are distributed to rural areas and that local dried ice providers are able to produce all the needed dried ice. As of right now, there is no cohesive national strategy in place to make sure that this distribution goes smoothly.
Moderna has shown promising results in their trial and studies. On December 17, 2020, the FDA is having a meeting about the Moderna vaccine, which is expected to receive speedy approval for emergency use. Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines require two shots around three to four weeks apart. A big concern is that there is no effective plan in place to make sure that people are getting both shots of the vaccine during the correct time frame.
The CDC had released information about the order in which people will receive vaccination. Phase 1A includes around 24 million people, including doctors, nurses, support staff, and those living and working in nursing homes. Phase 1B is made up of essential workers, including teachers, emergency responders, food handlers, and transportation workers. Adults who are 65 and older and those with high risk medical conditions are a part of Phase 1C.
Despite remarkable medical advance, we are not out of the woods yet. Most of the population will have to wait until spring 2021 to receive their dose of the vaccine. It is expected for around 50 million to be vaccinated by the end of January and around 100 million to be vaccinated by the end of February. In addition, Pfizer is going to start another trial on kids and teens because experts are unsure if vaccines work for children.
Governor Cuomo stated that New York State will receive an initial delivery of enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for 170,000 New Yorkers. If all safety and efficacy approvals are granted by the federal government, the state expects to receive the Pfizer vaccines on December 15. The state plans to allot the Mid-Hudson region with 19,200 doses and New York City and Long Island with 72,000 and 26,500 doses respectively.
We are looking forward to the day everyone, the teachers, staff members, and all the students, receives a vaccine. Before a majority of the United States population can become vaccinated and develop effective immunity, there will continue to be infections and deaths. To help those newly infected individuals, therapeutics from Eli Lilly and Regeron have both received FDA approval for emergency use.
Even though the vaccines are safe and effective, people should still be careful. In the United Kingdom, two healthcare workers got allergic reactions from a vaccine produced by Astra-Zeneca. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines, and even if no one reported any serious side effects, some of them have felt some short-term discomfort, including aches and flu-like symptoms.. It’s possible that people may need to take a day off work or school after the second shot. While these experiences aren’t pleasant, they are the result of your own immune system encountering the vaccine and mounting a response that will provide lasting immunity and help bring an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.