By Cindy Gisler, Product Marketing Manager, Analytics
Getting ready to distribute a vaccine?
On January 10, 2020, the first SARS CoV 2 genome sequence was released on line and marked the beginning of a global effort to combat the virus that has spread to 213 countries and territories, infected over 27 million people, killed more than 900,000 people, and tears at the fabric of our economic and social way of life — it has been devastating by all measures. Initiatives and activities all over the world have been put in place to control the spread of the virus while scientists work to develop diagnostics for detection, treatments and therapeutics, and most importantly, a vaccine that will allow for herd immunity and a way back to a world before COVID-19.
The vaccine process
Although the process has been accelerated to make a vaccine available, the process is still the same — preclinical evaluation of viable vaccine candidates, three phases of clinical evaluations to ensure the vaccine is effective and does no harm, and then approval. Examples of this accelerated process includes manufacturing high potential candidates in parallel with clinical trials to reduce lag time from approval to scale-up, or investigating mRNA vaccines that have much shorter manufacturing times than traditional vaccines.
A vaccine is coming, as several potential vaccines are in Stage 3 clinical trials and showing good results. Countries have started to signal that a vaccine will shortly become available. For example, it’s recently been reported that the CDC has asked local jurisdictions to prepare for vaccine distribution under a number of different scenarios in the near future.
Distributing the vaccine
If the development of a vaccine is the first phase in the victory over COVID-19, then the second phase is the distribution of the vaccine. It is estimated that to reach herd immunity 60 to 70% of the population needs to be immune and that represents billions of doses of vaccine being distributed to billions of people worldwide. Viability and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine is reliant on the vaccine being maintained at a certain temperature until presented to the patient; recent CDC scenario guidance offered insight into managing vaccine cold chains at -20°C , ultra-low temperatures or both (suggesting mRNA vaccines may be the first to be approved). While other COVID-19 vaccines will probably be managed like more traditional vaccines, between 2°C and 8°C in all cases, if the cold chain through manufacturing, distribution, storage and the patient is broken, vaccine quality is impacted to the point of the vaccine being ineffective. Managing and monitoring the cold chain is crucial in the effective delivery of a viable vaccine.
Our success against COVID-19 may very well be found in the logistics of keeping the vaccine at a controlled temperature along with the confidence in knowing at any given time that the required temperature is being maintained and monitored in real time. A vaccine for COVID-19 is just a matter of when — soon it will be about how we effectively and reliably get it to the people who need it.
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