United States / Coronavirus Insights
The Beginning of the End: The Rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccine

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by Dan Spitzer, Lead Pharmaceutical Analyst
Dec 16 2020

The vaccine

After eight months and an extraordinary push from both the private and public sectors, a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 (coronavirus) was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The vaccine was produced by Pfizer Inc. (Pfizer) in collaboration with BioNTech SE (BioNTech), a German biotechnology company. This first-of-its-kind vaccine, using proprietary mRNA technology, marks a momentous event in science, not just due to the speed of development, but also its effectiveness (IBISWorld report NN001).

Previously, the quickest vaccine to market took over five years and also had the benefit of extensive research prior to beginning the clinical trial. Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was developed shortly after the genetic structure of the novel coronavirus was deciphered. What’s even more impressive is that this new generation of vaccine technology, which has never been tested in humans prior to this clinical trial, was shown to be 95.0% effective in preventing the virus. However, it is important to note that while Pfizer worked with members of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), vaccine development and manufacturing costs have been entirely funded by Pfizer.

The rollout

The EUA for Pfizer’s vaccine may be the light at the end of the tunnel as outbreaks across the United States have remained at their highest, filling hospitals to near capacity and leading to more than 300,000 deaths.

Still, many challenges remain as the United States begins to distribute the vaccine. While OWS focused heavily on development, other teams involved with OWS were in charge of manufacturing and distribution. One key aspect of Pfizer’s vaccine is that it must remain at -70 degrees Celsius while in storage to remain effective. This poses several challenges, as these frigid temperatures are difficult to maintain while the vaccine is shipped from its manufacturing plant in Michigan to various vaccination sites, such as hospitals and pharmacies.

While front-line healthcare workers are among the first people to receive the vaccine though, many Americans are anxious to get vaccinated to return to normalcy. In anticipation of these challenges, OWS has been working with companies along the supply chain, such as long-distance distributors (IBISWorld reports 49222 and 48412) UPS and FedEx, as well as McKesson Corporation, to get the vaccines to patients (42345).

Additionally, the lessons learned from Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine rollout will likely aid in Moderna Inc.’s vaccine effort, which was shown to be as effective in preventing the virus. Now that the extensive planning by the various teams within OWS have begun to put into action, many questions remain as to whether the vaccine rollout will be fast enough to curb the pandemic as it reaches its most deadly phase in a particular challenging time.

 

Edited by Alexandria Valenti