It’s going to be a tough task and will require a coordinated effort to get more vaccines into the arms of people faster.
UCSF Epidemiology Department Chair Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo said, “The vaccine story is one of a triumph of science. We produced really highly efficacious vaccines very quickly.”
Bibbins-Domingo is also the author of a book on the subject of disease prevention.
“Unfortunately, it needs that same level of effort, resource investment and teamwork and expertise to actually get those vaccines into arms,” she said. “And it’s that latter part that we’ve not quite invested as much in.”
Bibbins-Domingo described a needed rollout of medical pros and equipment akin to the mobilization of a military campaign focusing on a streamlined approach that prevents bottlenecks.
“We have to have the on-the-ground teams ready to be able to put the vaccines into the arms of as many people as possible, and that challenge remains weather we go for a one dose or two dose strategy,” she said.
An emerging debate among medical experts is whether giving more people a single dose of the vaccine now, and circling back later with the second dose, would be better than giving fewer people both doses. Twice as many people would get protected from the virus, but not at the 95% efficacy rate that trials showed they get with two doses given three weeks apart.
“I think one of the keys in this debate is that, right now, we still haven’t done the best job of getting the doses we have right now to the people that need them,” said Bibbins-Domingo.
In a conversation with Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who will serve as the Biden administration’s chief medical advisor, said he believes vaccinations will ramp up in the coming weeks.
Bibbins-Domingo said that until 80% of the population is vaccinated, people will need to strictly follow masking, distancing and hygiene protocols.
She said it will help reduce hospitalizations, especially as two more contagious strains of the virus emerge.