Covid Vaccine: Who gets the first shot when it finally arrives?

With the coronavirus vaccine looking like a reality not too far away in the future, speculations have already started- Who should get the shot first when it actually arrives?

Coronavirus vaccine is expected to arrive anytime by the end of 2020. With the entire world population of almost 8 billion people waiting for it with bated breath, one thing is for sure, there has to be rationing. Some groups will obviously get a preference in getting the vaccine shots whereas others will have to wait a little longer.

Experts believe that COVID-19 can end either by herd immunity or developing a vaccine. However, even if the vaccine arrives, the principles of herd immunity will continue to apply. It will not be logistically possible to vaccine very person in the world, and there is also a probability that the vaccine may not be 100% effective.

So, what are the various factors that could decide this complex preference list?

A National Issue

The company or laboratory that makes the first breakthrough might have a tie-up with their government and that is how the coronavirus vaccine becomes a national issue. The government gets to decide where the first several million shots would be utilised. Anticipating such a breakthrough, countries like UK and US have already signed deals with major laboratories of their countries involved in the process. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has already warned the world against “vaccine nationalism” and how its in everyone’s national interest to share finite supplies of the vaccine globally.

Frontline Workers and Elderly

Frontline COVID-19 warriors like health workers, police and public personnel could get priority as and when the vaccine gets rolled out. Senior citizens with pre-existing ailments are also at the top of the priority list. However, the decision is not going to be as easy as it sounds. Elderly people might have adverse reactions to the vaccine and the vaccine is also the least effective in this group. Young people have the strongest response to a vaccine and vaccinating them could break the chain of transmission. So, setting the priorities right could leave the authorities in a quandary.

A best case scenario can be to choose a specific geography where the virus is circulating at the highest rate and vaccinate a specific cluster of population there. Another approach can be to trigger herd immunity by vaccinated only a percentage of people. The authorities world over need to be smart and considerate when finalizing the vaccine distribution plan as their decision could be the key to end the corona era.

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