Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Idaho COVID Committee Wants Early Distribution of Vaccine
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Pfizer’s announcement of a vaccine with 90 percent success was hailed as one of the most important medical advances in the last hundred years by one doctor.
   
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

COVID GRAPHS BY PAUL RIES

The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee has recommended that the Gem State accept early distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. That would allow the vaccine to reach enrolled providers 24 to 48 hours sooner than the standard distribution process.

The decision comes on the heels of Pfizer's announcement that its latest test data indicates that its vaccine may be 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19--about the same as vaccines preventing measles and the chickenpox. Just 94 infections have been reported among 44,000 people enrolled in the study.

 
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Blaine County surpassed a thousand cases of coronavirus on Monday with six new cases on Monday and a record high 25 on Thursday for a total of 1,002. It came on the same day the United States surpassed 10 million cases of coronavirus.
 

It’s expected the vaccine will not be ready until Dec. 1 at the earliest and perhaps not until early 2021, but the news sent stocks rising.

An approval would make Idaho one of the first to receive the vaccine. It could not come early enough for Twin Falls, where St. Luke's Magic Valley has had to turn patients away and send others to Boise hospitals. Despite that, the City of Twin Falls declined to issue a mask mandate Monday night.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking every state in the nation if it wants to accept early distribution of the vaccine. The decision is ultimately up to each state’s governor.

If Idaho proceeds with early distribution, then a limited number of doses of the vaccine would be sent to the state to be stored once an Emergency Use Authorization is secured from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But it would not be administered in the state until a recommendation is issued by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. 

 
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Idaho has had its six worst days this week since the pandemic started, notching another 1,266 cases to its 74,227 total on Monday. At least 704 Idahoans have died of the virus.
 

“This would not compromise our commitment to providing a safe and effective vaccine for Idahoans,” said Sarah Leeds, Idaho Immunization Program manager. “And it would help us get a small number of doses of the vaccine here sooner, so we could administer it to some Idahoans sooner.”

Out of the hundred-plus vaccines that were initially formulated, four vaccines have begun large scale Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States. It’s expected a vaccine manufacturer may apply for FDA Emergency Use Authorization as soon as Nov. 16.

The FDA’s Vaccine’s & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will then meet within two weeks to review the request and make a recommendation to the FDA. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will then hold an emergency meeting to consider recommendations for use of the vaccine, which could occur as soon as Dec. 1 if the process goes according to plan.

The vaccine in Idaho would be distributed to providers who are enrolled through the state in CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program following the ACIP’s recommendation.

Storing the vaccines will be a challenge in and of itself. Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidates must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius, or -94 Fahrenheit. If dry ice requirements are not handled properly, there could be a lot of waste as vaccines must be used within five days after they’ve thawed.

The vaccine will likely be available first to healthcare providers, essential workers, adults 65 years and older and adults under the age of 65 with high-risk conditions.

There will not be enough doses for everyone who wants one initially. But it’s hoped all adults should be able to get vaccinated sometime in 2021.

That said, the share of Americans who said they will likely get a vaccine as soon as it’s available has dropped from 69 percent to 58 percent because of concerns the regulatory approval might have  been politicized leading up to the just-ended election.

The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee was formed by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare at the direction of Gov. Brad Little in October and its members represent stakeholders from across Idaho, including the tribes, priority populations, healthcare systems and providers and immunization organizations.

Health officials say an effective vaccine would reduce the transmission of the coronavirus, which is a highly contagious virus. In doing so, it would cut down on severe illness and death and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

As more and more people get a vaccine, it’s believed society and the economy can begin recovering.

 

~  Today's Topics ~


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