Vaccine distribution logistics, not vaccine development, may pose highest hurdle to achieving COVID herd immunity

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Importantly, creating the vaccine is just one step. We then need to distribute it. Because while vaccinating everyone is impossible, vaccinating enough people to create a protective herd immunity is not. This is really the key when we talk about returning to “normal.”

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It is reported that Pfizer’s product may require ultra-cold storage at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of specialized storage is not available in your typical doctor’s office; it is found in universities and research centers. If the vaccine that’s first out of the gate does require this kind of storage, the logistics of distribution will be daunting. Even if the military is mobilized to distribute the vaccine, the hurdles will be formidable. Suppose a second vaccine is approved rapidly. In that case, the complexity will multiply, since the vaccines are not interchangeable: You must have the same vaccine for both shots.

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And how many people will need to be vaccinated? An optimistic model says 43 percent will need to have potent antibodies to achieve herd immunity, and the administration claims it will do it in one year. That is 142 million people. But if the vaccine is only 50 percent effective, it could take many more people to reach immunity. Currently, we can’t get that many people to wear a mask. And an NBC News poll showed that more than half of Americans are still wary of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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