Optimizing vaccine rollout: Should we be concerned about taking possibly less effective — but easier to distribute — COVID shots like AstraZeneca’s and J&J’s?

Credit: The New Daily/Getty Images
Credit: The New Daily/Getty Images

Yusuff Adebayo Adebisi knows that a vaccine that offers 70% protection against COVID-19 could be a valuable tool against the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria — especially if that vaccine is cheap and doesn’t have to be stored at extremely cold temperatures. But what if another vaccine — one that is more expensive to buy and to store — was 95% effective?

“Should we send the less-effective vaccine to Africa? Or should we look for a way to strengthen the cold storage?” asks Adebisi, director for research at African Young Leaders for Global Health, a non-profit organization based in Abuja.

These are the kinds of question facing researchers and government leaders worldwide, as they take stock of the emerging selection of coronavirus vaccines.

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Researchers are also starting to test a range of doses, schedules and combinations of vaccines. They still do not know how long vaccine-mediated immunity will last, or how well the various vaccines reduce coronavirus spread — all factors that could shape which is considered the ‘best’. “It’s not just a matter of getting them out as fast as possible,” says [vaccine epidemiologist Mark Jit]. “It’s making sure that as we get them out, we are putting in place the surveillance studies to see how well the vaccines are doing in different situations.”

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