We need to start travelling on real street with the vaccines. There were original claims that we would have 30 million shots of the vaccine by the end of the year but that hype has now fallen by the wayside and the hype is now that 10 million will be available. It’s likely that 1 million will be and that they may be able to fulfil the order during the next year. But if two shots are required that may mean 500,000 immunisations. The UK has ordered 30 million doses, so 15 million immunisations over the next year.
The vaccine needs two shots to be 90% effective, 28 days apart, not 90% effective immediately, so you can only count an immunisation after 28 days. At the moment if one was available today the second shot could not be administered until 8th December for this immunity. If it’s not being distributed, stored, and administered within the next three weeks then it’s the new year for 90% immunity at least, even if it does work.
The third level trials have not been finished and 20% of vaccines or drugs still fail at this stage. We don’t know if any have been successful yet. Third level trials for most vaccines started around July, 4 months ago, so at best we only really have a guess that any vaccine may be effective for 4 months so far. We don’t even know if follow up investigations have been made to see if people are still as immune after this time. Would a vaccine that is only effective for 4 months be worth having, requiring 2 shots 3 times a year, or 6 doses requiring the production and storage of 90 million doses for the UK in total?
It takes time for ramping up full production and although many companies have been jumping the gun and mass producing these vaccines they still don’t know if they have to dispose of all of them yet. If they do, and they have produced millions as they say, then the cost will need to be added to all those they are replacing it with. They don’t do it for free, so are dependent on how successful they are.
The vaccine needs to be stored in special freezers at below -70C. The average freezer stores stuff at -18C, and such low temperature freezers are not commonplace. I doubt if 1 in 100 doctor’s surgery’s currently have one. With the requirement for storing say a million doses a month have we the storage facility in place, how long do they last out of the freezer and do we have the suitable -70C transport to get them there? It’s not just a case of we have the vaccine, now everybody can have the injection tomorrow and in 28 days’ time. So, is production of the low temperature freezers and transport in hand so that every doctor’s surgery can have one? Or are they going to be in hospitals and central points to get to.
Will the power supplies that we have in place for these freezers fail and are there back-up supplies in place just in case they do? If one fails what is the facility or organisation to replace them?
Doctors are being told to get ready by the start of December without really being told how, and I’ve seen little material evidence for what is needed being put in place, just ‘we will be ready,’ as though pure paperwork and practiced procedures will be enough for when the equipment is arriving, although not ordered yet.
We are looking at a logistical nightmare, the armed forces maybe having some of the characteristics to make it happen. But this won’t run on pure orders or bureaucracy, needing some independence of action, as the people involved need to know expertly what there are dealing with and the parameters or procedures of failure. What worries me is that there is little evidence of this being in place or being prepared, hoping that just throwing it together may make it all work. How effective is a damaged vaccine, and could it be worse than not having it.
We then have the problems of uptake. Measles is on the increase mainly due to the anti-vaxx movement, and is currently increasing at a rate of 3 times the numbers every year. Both the Royal Society of Science and the British Academy of Learning have been pushing for the UK to have a law preventing the dissemination of ‘incorrect knowledge,’ but this is as dangerous as the anti-vaxx movement, as you can almost guarantee this will extend eventually to all knowledge. Only knowledge that is ‘approved,’ or possibly have institutional approval will be allowed to be discussed. Does this include factual but against the public interest?
In the UK we try to strike a balance between free speech and acceptable speech, but over the years free speech has been taking a real battering, with more and more becoming non-acceptable, judged by law, the media, and self-assessed and obsessed ‘correct-thinking’ people. You wonder if this may be used by people simply trying to hide evidence, and a crackdown as in the US on ‘whistle-blowers’ if things don’t go exactly how authority says they will or do.
The fact is that most of these new vaccines work on new principles, so we can’t quite be sure of all the consequences, the people inventing and producing them and the medical community saying ‘none but those intended, so all fears are baseless,’ but you get this feeling things are moving too fast, the Royal Society and British Academy calling for any rights to dissent or doubts to be removed. I don’t know which worries me more, the virus, or the Royal Society and British Academies. Theoretically there is no risk, but these vaccines produced are novel, have been the fastest developed in history, and are going to be used for the whole world in the next year. You do get this feeling that we are told ‘things are moving too fast to allow for caution.’