The talk of a vaccine is taking the world by storm, almost as quickly as COVID-19 did earlier this year. With multiple vaccines at the ready and being approved for emergency use, it’s time to ask how that will affect the world.
Vaccines that are becoming available require storage at a cold temperature, with Pfizer’s vaccine- which is the first approved for emergency use- requiring to be frozen at -70° Celsius (-94° Fahrenheit). These temperature requirements make it difficult to provide a vaccine worldwide, particularly in areas where there is limited infrastructure to maintain such temperatures. These demands will also either require distributors to expand their cold-shipping capacity, a costly expense, or create a trade-off limiting some of their standard cold-shipping cargo. A vaccine with such requirements could have a costly affect on a distribution industry trying to meet its demands.
In a post-vaccine world, we also must question how the United States will handle those who refuse to take the vaccine. Dov Fox, a law professor and the director of the Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics at the University of San Diego, told ABC News San Diego that “States can compel vaccinations in more or less intrusive ways…They can limit access to schools or services or jobs if people don’t get vaccinated. They could force them to pay a fine or even lock them up in jail.” This is harrowing considering how many people are very open about their distrust of the vaccine. An Ipsos poll found that 27% of people disagree with the statement “if a vaccine for COVID-19 were available, I would get it”.
This also brings up the question of how people will respond when they can’t get the vaccine. Those who are living in fear of COVID-19 are desperately in wait for the vaccine. As previously addressed, there are many potentials for error in the distribution, a delay in shipment could lead to civil unrest in some. We’ve seen firsthand the lines forming at COVID testing centers, many whom were running out of the tests in the beginning of the pandemic. How will we prevent that same issue from happening with the vaccine? There is still uncertainty of how long the vaccine will last, what if this becomes a yearly occurrence? Adding in all the red tape and protocol that varies from place to place, it really makes you wonder if we’re ready to distribute a global vaccine.