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 specialists, 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 will have stated a vaccine is coming quickly inside weeks now. Your individual officers say, ‘It may take properly into 2021 on the earliest for sufficient Individuals to get vaccinated,’” stated Welker.

“No, I feel 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 top of logistics, and this can be 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 almost the size that Trump instructed within the debate and has repeated multiple times in the past.

For one factor, distribution of any COVID vaccine will possible be dictated by want via 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 Medication.

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 circumstances and different high-risk traits” for the primary tranche of individuals to obtain a vaccine.

Theoretically, a army jet may assist on this transport system. However there are myriad complexities concerned given the character of a coronavirus vaccine. Many that are presently below improvement, 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, similar to one below improvement by Johnson & Johnson, may finally be stored at conventional fridge temperatures for as much as three months.

Whereas Air Drive cargo jets could possibly be outfitted with the correct refrigeration models to move ultra-cooled vaccines (in collaboration with the businesses growing them), there’s one other logistics dilemma: transferring these extremely delicate supplies from a producing website or truck to models on a army aircraft.

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

The Protection Division itself stated as just lately as late September that it doesn’t anticipate the army to be concerned in vaccine distribution in any giant scale style. In a statement to the trade publication American Shipper, a Pentagon spokesperson stated that “DOD-required help could be by exception, noting that “army air property 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 degree, 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 12 months. Very similar to coronavirus testing, high-risk sufferers and frontline staff will probably be prioritized earlier than the broader populace will be capable to get their pictures, possible someday subsequent 12 months.

Extra coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

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