Saturday, December 12, 2020

The timeline for Covid-19 vaccine distribution keeps slipping. Experts say it will change again

Capped vials shown during filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine candidate at a manufacturing facility in Italy. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

Olivia Goldhill

When Bruce Y. Lee was helping the U.S. government model delivery plans for H1N1 influenza vaccines, he came to expect one constant: The schedule would always change.

“We’d constantly have to update the models as new production numbers came out,” said Lee, a professor at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, who developed computational models to guide the national response to the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. “That just became accepted.”

The shifting timelines are already apparent with Covid-19 vaccine distribution in the U.S. — even before the rollout starts in the coming days. The Trump administration declared in May that 300 million vaccine doses would be available by January 2021, with the first distributed in October of this year. By October, that had shifted to 100 million doses by the end of the year, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Currently, the plan is for 40 million doses to be distributed in December, though some in health care are skeptical of even that prediction.  Read more >>