Bumpy road ahead for global COVID-19 vaccine rollout, experts say

By Kate Kelland and Michele Gershberg LONDON (Reuters) - Governments worldwide face a tremendous challenge in building up the logistics needed for mass vaccination against COVID-19 and providing clear messaging to their citizens to boost confidence in the shots, public health experts said on Wednesday. Speaking at the Reuters Next conference, experts speaking from the United States, India and the UK said they were hopeful the world will turn a corner against the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 - as long as authorities focus on getting vaccines into arms and persuading pandemic-weary populations to adhere to social distancing measures in the meantime. 'There was a lot of victory dancing and celebrating that we were bringing forward these great vaccines, but where we've fallen short is we've not paid attention to the operational discipline and competency needed to design and implement a vaccination program,' said Michelle Williams, dean of the faculty at Harvard T.H

Reuters January 14, 2021 00:14:46 IST
Bumpy road ahead for global COVID-19 vaccine rollout, experts say

Bumpy road ahead for global COVID19 vaccine rollout experts say

By Kate Kelland and Michele Gershberg

LONDON (Reuters) - Governments worldwide face a tremendous challenge in building up the logistics needed for mass vaccination against COVID-19 and providing clear messaging to their citizens to boost confidence in the shots, public health experts said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Reuters Next conference, experts speaking from the United States, India and the UK said they were hopeful the world will turn a corner against the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 - as long as authorities focus on getting vaccines into arms and persuading pandemic-weary populations to adhere to social distancing measures in the meantime.

"There was a lot of victory dancing and celebrating that we were bringing forward these great vaccines, but where we've fallen short is we've not paid attention to the operational discipline and competency needed to design and implement a vaccination program," said Michelle Williams, dean of the faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the United States.

She said she was optimistic that an injection of funding into public health infrastructure and "clearly articulated messaging" by the incoming administration of President-Elect Joe Biden would help limit the spread of the virus while also accelerating testing and vaccination programmes.

Speaking from the UK, Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project and a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said she felt that in some ways, 2020 was the easier part in dealing with the pandemic.

Now, in 2021, "we've got not just one vaccine, we've got multiple vaccines, different doses, different platforms, and some of them have never been used before," she said.

"It's a time of hyper-uncertainty. Publics are tired. They're worn. Not all politicians have been helpful here. And things are changing by the day," Larson told the conference.

She predicted a "bumpy road" ahead in the coming months, after many of the elderly and most vulnerable have had shots and when people who are less at risk, and more likely to be hesitant about vaccine plans, could voice concerns.

Dr Naveen Rao, senior vice president of the Health Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation in the United States, who spoke to the online conference from India, said one uncertainty ahead for COVID-19 vaccination plans was the issue of coronavirus mutations emerging in new variants.

"We don't know how this will play out," he said. "The variants are something we should be wary of."

Rao noted that tests so far on whether the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can protect against new SARS-CoV-2 variants that have emerged in Britain and in South Africa appeared positive. He also noted that scientists have said the vaccines can, if necessary, be tweaked to take new variants into account.

"As the virus is mutating, we should be able to keep up. But time will tell," he said.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.