February 1st – The epidemic situation in the United States continues to worsen, and the number of COVID-19 deaths in January 2021 set a new record.
Meanwhile, the distribution of vaccines in the United States has also fallen into chaos, with more than 20 million doses of vaccines that have been distributed missing.
An article published in Fortune magazine on January 31 analyzed the reasons for the chaos of vaccination in the United States, including slow delivery of vaccines, different distribution policies, and lack of communication between government and local governments.
The excerpt of the article is as follows:
Slow delivery of vaccines and insufficient reserves
Whether it is Pfizer or Modena COVID-19 vaccine, it must be sent to the public health system, nursing home agencies and pharmaceutical partners after production is completed.
This raises the question of “last mile” where some medical institutions simply don’t know how many doses of coronavirus vaccine they will receive in a week.
“It’s basically a temporary procedure at local health facilities,” says Melanie Swift, who helped oversee the vaccination efforts at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
The federal government is in trouble with the vaccine stockpile. The U.S. government has previously claimed that as more and more people are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, there are enough vaccines to meet the needs of states.
But after the government suggested that people over 65 years old can get vaccinated in mid-January, states such as Washington, New York and Oregon have not implemented distribution plans because of the serious shortage of vaccine reserves.
In addition, there is a shortage of basic materials for the manufacture of coronavirus vaccines, such as vials and syringes.
While the Biden administration invoked the Defense Production Act on January 27 to require businesses to accelerate the production of such materials, it is unclear which company is responsible for manufacturing.
Vaccination programs vary greatly from state to state.
After Pfizer and Modena’s COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for emergency use, the CDC issued a list of recommended priorities to the WHO with the keyword “recommendations.” As former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar said, states are ultimately responsible for determining their own vaccine promotion plans.
There are significant differences in vaccination rates by state.
For example, in Idaho and Missouri, the proportion of people who have had at least one or two doses of vaccine is 4.5%, compared with Alaska, which is as high as 11.4%. While some of them can be explained by different population densities, different policies in the states also play a role.
“Overall, we’ve found increasing differences between states, and whether you can get vaccinated at the early stage of vaccine distribution depends largely on where you live,” a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care think tank.
In addition, the vaccination schedule varies greatly from state to state, which makes the vaccination situation in the United States complicated.”
The priority and allocation mechanism are unknown.
There is a reason for the phased promotion of the coronavirus vaccine, and one obvious problem is insufficient supply.
In fact, Pfizer and Modena’s coronavirus vaccines have not been fully approved technically, but are only urgently authorized in special circumstances.
This requires a priority vaccination issue, just like early COVID-19 testing.
The first recommended vaccinations include front-line medical workers, care facility personnel and nursing home seniors, because they are at high risk for contracting the virus.
As it spreads step by step, more or less all Americans will be eligible for vaccination.
However, the U.S. media recently revealed that someone has jumped the queue to get the coronavirus vaccine.
In fact, it is sometimes difficult to verify whether a person is truly eligible for vaccination in the United States, after all, vaccinators do not need to produce proof of work or tax documents.
Another practical problem is that in some areas, not enough eligible people have been vaccinated, resulting in the disastation of vaccines. Some medical institutions also vaccinate some non-conforming people to avoid waste. It can be seen that the chaotic distribution mechanism creates inequality for high-risk groups.
People are not willing to vaccinate.
If getting a coronavirus vaccine where it needs is a “last mile” challenge, getting a vaccine on your arm is a “last inch” challenge.
Some Americans still have doubts about the safety of the coronavirus vaccine.
The Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 20% of the respondents said they would not be vaccinated, only if required; another 31% were on-and-see.
According to projections, more than 70% or even 90% of people must be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus in order to achieve herd immunity against the novel coronavirus nationwide.
Lack of data information sharing system
Minnesota CIO Tarik Tomeis described the U.S. vaccine distribution dilemma as “a closely related issue to data communication” and called for increased investment in infrastructure in the field of health information.
Communication is everything during the pandemic, but the systems responsible for sharing data are largely outdated and unable to cope with intricate information.
Some electronic health data providers have to create specialized systems to store data.
Information about COVID-19 vaccine demand must be transmitted from local hospitals to the state and federal governments, and then the state and federal governments must communicate with vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors, logistics companies, pharmacies and the public.
CDC does provide a platform for these data, but it still needs local agencies to solve technical problems themselves to convey data needs, and the CDC only plays a coordinating role in it.