The COVID-19 vaccine must initially reach priority groups
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there is no doubt that we must be ready to face a long road ahead, certainly beyond the end of this year. The fact that a vaccine, alongside other treatments, is our only true exit strategy remains unchanged.
One hopes that we will see results emanating from the first vaccines after undergoing clinical trials. However, we must be cautious about this vaccine that it will be a complete and immediate solution.
The first vaccines will most likely not be perfect and here we need to be pragmatic on this front. The reality is that with these vaccines we will be taking small steps to return to a sense of normality.
However, the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines will probably be only partially effective. They might not be completely effective in all ages. It is very possible that they might provide immunity only for a limited period.
Accelerating vaccine development must not mean compromising safety. Most importantly, fair access to the vaccine must be addressed. It must initially reach priority groups, particularly frontline healthcare workers and the most vulnerable.
As we move through autumn and winter, we will see an increase in community transmission. Without urgent action to stop the current increased community transmission leading to transmission in hospitals and in social care, and thereby severe illness and deaths in vulnerable people, we will be facing disruptrions in schools, workplaces and businesses.
We have to do everything possible to avoid this. The first vaccine may not send us back to normal in a matter of months. However, by giving doses wisely on the people who most need them, we will be in a strong position to avoid a repeat of seven months ago.