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Regardless of Trump’s claims, the Dept. of Protection would not plan to steer vaccine distribution

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President Donald Trump doubled down on his optimism {that a} COVID-19 vaccine for the lots is simply across the nook throughout Thursday night time’s final presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden. That flies within the face of what most consultants, together with senior Trump administration officers, have stated, as debate moderator Kristen Welker famous.

However Trump insisted that he believes in a extra accelerated timeline that may be boosted by the U.S. army, which might ostensibly assist deploy tens of tens of millions of doses to the overall inhabitants as soon as a vaccine clears regulatory hurdles.

“You’ve gotten stated a vaccine is coming quickly inside weeks now. Your individual officers say, ‘It might take effectively into 2021 on the earliest for sufficient People to get vaccinated,’” stated Welker.

“No, I believe my timeline goes to be extra correct. I don’t know that they’re relying on the army the way in which I do, however we’ve got our generals lined up, one particularly that’s the pinnacle of logistics, and it is a very simple distribution for him. He’s able to go,” Trump responded. “As quickly as we’ve got the vaccine—and we anticipate to have a 100 million vials—as quickly as we’ve got the vaccine, he’s able to go.”

Whereas it’s true that the army could also be concerned in transportation of some vaccine doses, sensible logistics recommend it received’t be at practically the size that Trump advised within the debate and has repeated multiple times in the past.

For one factor, distribution of any COVID vaccine will doubtless be dictated by want by way of a tiered prioritization technique. The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management (CDC) and Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH) commissioned a framework for equitable distribution of the COVID vaccine by the Nationwide Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Drugs.

That initial framework recommends, in its supply and allocation part, that the Division of Well being and Human Companies (HHS) construct “the capability and programs to gather and combine the mandatory information (digital and different) from public well being and personal suppliers of care to facilitate the identification and monitoring of individuals with pre-existing situations and different high-risk traits” for the primary tranche of individuals to obtain a vaccine.

Theoretically, a army jet might assist on this transport system. However there are myriad complexities concerned given the character of a coronavirus vaccine. Many vaccines at present below growth, together with from drug giants like Pfizer and smaller biotechs like Moderna, would must be refrigerated at temperatures as low as negative 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Others, reminiscent of one below growth by Johnson & Johnson, might finally be stored at conventional fridge temperatures for as much as three months.

Whereas Air Pressure cargo jets may very well be geared up with the right refrigeration items to move ultracooled vaccines (in collaboration with the businesses creating them), there’s one other logistics dilemma: transferring these extremely delicate supplies from a producing web site or truck to items on a army aircraft.

That course of might probably taint the product, which is why consultants word {that a} extra practical possibility is probably going counting on supercooled cargo vans that may transport a COVID vaccine on to a medical middle that has its personal specialised infrastructure.

The Protection Division itself stated as not too long ago as late September that it doesn’t anticipate the army to be concerned in vaccine distribution in any large-scale trend. In a statement to the trade publication American Shipper, a Pentagon spokesperson stated that “DOD-required assist can be by exception,” noting that “army air belongings could also be referred to as upon to ship vaccines to a distant location provided that no different technique of transportation is possible.”

On a broader stage, Trump’s suggestion {that a} vaccine will probably be immediately obtainable as soon as granted FDA authorization or approval defies practicality and the character of rolling out a vaccine in lower than a yr. Very like coronavirus testing, high-risk sufferers and frontline employees will probably be prioritized earlier than the broader populace will be capable of get their photographs, doubtless someday subsequent yr.

Extra coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

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