Sep 3, 2020 - Health

The scramble to prepare for a coronavirus vaccine

a checklist
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

All of a sudden, it feels like we're hurtling toward a coronavirus vaccine — with the first doses potentially being administered before the 2020 election.

Why it matters: The question of whether politics influence the Trump administration's actions looms larger than ever. Just as important is the question of whether we'll be ready for this complicated effort in less than two months.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged governors last week to do everything possible to get vaccine distribution sites operational by Nov. 1, McClatchy reported Wednesday.

  • A few hours later, the New York Times published CDC guidance on how to distribute early doses of two vaccines, including who should receive priority.
  • The vaccines, described as "Vaccine A" and "Vaccine B," match the descriptions of vaccines being developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which are furthest along in clinical trials. Both require two doses and must be stored at sub-zero temperatures.

What they're saying: "This timeline of the initial deployment at the end of October is deeply worrisome for the politicization of public health and the potential safety ramifications," epidemiologist Saskia Popescu told NYT. "It's hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine."

The bottom line: None of the logistical hurdles in vaccine distribution are insurmountable, in theory. But the U.S. has a dismal track record so far with even moderately difficult problems during this pandemic.

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