If you have not prepared health screening for your job sites or offices, act now: “Even with a highly successful vaccine rollout—the bull case—the public will still be wearing masks, maintaining distance, and avoiding crowds for many months after regulatory authorization. In fact, the public will likely be taking these precautions into the second half of 2021 or longer.”
The following is an excerpt from an article published on BCG.com. Read the full article at BCG >
Vaccines Aren’t the End of the Fight, but the End of the Beginning
Governments cannot let the most vulnerable be the least protected again. Countries, regions, and states can still get the rollout right through science, hard work, and vigilance.
The pivotal Phase III trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidates are nearing the first results, and hopes are rising that the end of the worst pandemic in a century may be approaching. These understandable hopes must be tempered by the complexities of defeating this virus. Countries are still only months into a very long fight.
Even with a highly successful vaccine rollout—the bull case—the public will still be wearing masks, maintaining distance, and avoiding crowds for many months after regulatory authorization. In fact, the public will likely be taking these precautions into the second half of 2021 or longer. Testing, tracing, and continuing efforts to reduce the severity of the disease with therapeutics will also remain crucial. If the rollout is less successful—the base and bear cases—such interventions could stay in place for 15 more months or longer. (See “The Bull, Base, and Bear Cases.”)
The Bull, Base, and Bear Cases
Amid uncertainty and complexity, scenario exercises offer a window into the future. The purpose of scenarios is less to predict the future than to prepare for it and incorporate variability into planning. Our three vaccine rollout scenarios, tailored for the US but applicable more broadly, range from bullish to bearish and highlight the need for agility and resilience. Low- and middle-income countries are likely to face a longer timeline for recovery.
The Bull Case. In this scenario, all the puzzle pieces fall into place. Several highly effective vaccines receive emergency-use authorization in late 2020. Highly effective therapeutics mitigate disease severity during the vaccine ramp up. The vaccine rollout across the supply chain is effective and well coordinated. The public and private sectors partner to create and execute a thoughtful, clear, and trustworthy communication and administration plan. The plan provides for the right number of administration sites with the right storage and handling capacity, in the right communities, with the right operating hours, and with the right staff. Under this best-case scenario, the pandemic would persist for less than another year; the number of infections would gradually decrease, and the virus would be under control before the end of the third quarter of 2021.
The Base Case. The puzzle pieces fall into place but with less speed, precision, and coordination. Two vaccines are authorized for use by the end of 2020, but they are slightly less effective. Therapeutics are only moderately effective and face broad distribution challenges. Vaccine manufacturing is effective, but delays in the last mile and a limited number of vaccine administration sites constrain vaccination volumes. The information campaign does not fully address the public’s underlying skepticism, especially among high-risk groups, worsening existing disparities. The ongoing release of safety and efficacy data that demonstrates the effectiveness of the vaccines slowly alleviates those concerns. The good-but-not-great rollout delays defeating the pandemic by about six months, until the first quarter of 2022.
The Bear Case. Little proceeds as planned. A single vaccine receives emergency-use authorization in 2020. It is moderately effective, but the rollout is largely inefficient, including manufacturing, distribution, and administration. Health officials do not approve therapeutics other than remdesivir and dexamethasone. Last-mile challenges generate waste. Poor communication and record keeping lead to many individuals missing their second dose. A second vaccine is authorized for use but not until mid-2021. In the meantime, subsequent waves of cases emerge, and the pandemic persists for two more years.
The rollout needs to happen both efficiently and equitably. We will have failed if vaccines disproportionately flow to wealthy nations and individuals at the expense of nations with low or midrange per capita income and marginalized communities. Governments cannot repeat the mistakes made during the early days of the pandemic, when the most vulnerable were the least protected from the virus. Countries, regions, and states still have time to get this right through science, hard work, and vigilance.
For public health officials, who have been on the frontlines all year, the work enters the next crucial phase. In countries that have contained the virus, winning the health endgame will cement trust and legitimacy, creating a platform on which to build economic recovery. For countries that have struggled with their public health response, this phase is the opportunity to flip the script and restore faith in the government.