Regardless of Trump’s claims, the Dept. of Protection does 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 mentioned, 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. navy, which might ostensibly assist deploy tens of hundreds of thousands of doses to the final inhabitants as soon as a vaccine clears regulatory hurdles.

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

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

Whereas it’s true that the navy could also be concerned in transportation of some vaccine doses, sensible logistics counsel it gained’t be at practically the dimensions that Trump steered within the debate and has repeated multiple times in the past.

For one factor, distribution of any COVID vaccine will probably 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 Providers (HHS) construct “the capability and techniques to gather and combine the required 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 navy jet may assist on this transport system. However there are myriad complexities concerned given the character of a coronavirus vaccine. Many vaccines at present underneath growth, together with from drug giants like Pfizer and smaller biotechs like Moderna, would have to be refrigerated at temperatures as low as negative 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Others, akin to one underneath growth by Johnson & Johnson, may finally be stored at conventional fridge temperatures for as much as three months.

Whereas Air Pressure cargo jets may very well be outfitted 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 navy aircraft.

That course of may presumably taint the product, which is why consultants observe {that a} extra real looking choice is probably going counting on supercooled cargo vehicles that may transport a COVID vaccine on to a medical middle that has its personal specialised infrastructure.

The Protection Division itself mentioned as just lately as late September that it doesn’t anticipate the navy to be concerned in vaccine distribution in any large-scale trend. In a statement to the trade publication American Shipper, a Pentagon spokesperson mentioned that “DOD-required help can be by exception,” noting that “navy air belongings could also be known 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 likely 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 similar to coronavirus testing, high-risk sufferers and frontline staff will likely be prioritized earlier than the broader populace will have the ability to get their pictures, probably someday subsequent yr.

Extra coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

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