Thursday 12 November 2020

Day 241 of self-isolation - Vaccine logistics

Vaccine logistics

 From a logistical point of view, the Pfizer vaccine is quite difficult. It has to be stored at -70C, and people need two shots. The Oxford vaccine doesn't need such deep refrigeration, and only needs one shot. So let's look at the worst case, the Pfizer vaccine.

It should be possible to do a daily delivery of vaccine from wherever they are stored centrally, to the 7000 GP practices in the UK. The vaccine would be delivered in insulated containers packed with dry ice to keep it cold.

In the UK, there are 285 thousand nurses. If 14,000 of them are deployed on this (two per GP practice), that's only 5% of the nurses.

I'm thinking about my flu jab. I just rolled up my sleeve, jab, all done. Finished in a minute. So one nurse could do about 500 per day, 14,000 nurses could do 7 million per day.

So I hear some people worrying about the logistics, and in particular, there is concern that our incompetent government will find cronies to cock it up. But I believe (and hope) that the vaccination logistics will be handled by the NHS, and they already have a system in place for the flu vaccine, and they can build on that.

Another concern is about the number of refusniks. People are saying that they will refuse the vaccine for a variety of reasons, all the way from a fear that Bill Gates will thereby control them (daft) all the way up to a valid concern that the vaccine has been rushed out and has not been tested properly.

Again, we need to trust the experts about how much testing a medication needs. Alternatively, each person could do a seven year course in immunology and decide for themselves. I don't have that much spare time, so I'll be taking the advice of the NHS, just like I did when I cracked three ribs and took the treatments that the hospital recommended.

We all remember the Thalidomide disaster, and we all remember that this led to a big change in how medicines are tested.

In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, 43,500 people were in the trial, and half of those were given the vaccine. There were no serious side effects.

Wait a minute. What about non-serious side effects.Surely they matter? Well, I can tell you from my own personal, recent experience. I had the flu vaccine, and for a few days, my upper arm felt bruised. That's a non-serious side effect; I wasn't even inconvenienced, and if it leads to a good reduction in my chance of falling ill to flu, it's well worth it.

And we need this vaccine.  There were 595 deaths today, which took the total past 50,000. The daily new infections has topped out at 20-25,000 and we can hope that it will now start to decline.

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