The race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine continues, with several manufacturers in late stage clinical trials and reviews. While the world waits in anticipation, Providence has been partnering with local and federal public health authorities to help ensure a smooth rollout, once a vaccine or vaccines are made available.
Over the last couple weeks, we’ve made significant headway in our preparedness and COVID-19 vaccine candidates have achieved some notable and promising research milestones. Leaders from our COVID-19 taskforces have the following news and updates to share. For more information, see our expanded FAQ.
We all have a lot of questions about the much anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. Our leadership team is closely following vaccine developments and will work to answer caregiver questions in the days ahead, and as we gather more information.
We’re preparing for a variety of COVID-19 vaccine scenarios
In each of our regions, clinical and administrative leaders have partnered with state departments of health to determine distribution, storage and administration of the potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates. This work has included ensuring we are registered with the states to administer the vaccine; securing new or ensuring existing storage capacity; and developing clinical workflows for our caregivers and patients to receive the vaccine, when available.
We are confident in the COVID-19 vaccine review and approval process
The U.S. has strict requirements that must be met for a drug or vaccine to pursue approval, even on a limited, emergency use basis. Once there is evidence that the vaccine meets safety and efficacy benchmarks, the FDA can grant it Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to provide timely access to this critically needed medical intervention. In addition, some of our states are implementing their own reviews to assess safety and effectiveness prior to distributing the vaccine. At Swedish, we have processes that also thoroughly review all new therapeutics, and steps to evaluate the vaccine prior to it being made available to patients or caregivers.
Early indications suggest a COVID-19 vaccine will be safe and effective
Vaccine candidates are still under review, but fortunately early effectiveness findings look optimistic. According to early analyses, two vaccine candidates were more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, with no significant safety concerns and the majority of side effects being mild to moderate (e.g., fatigue and headache). This is significant and reassuring.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be limited in quantity and available to select populations to start
We know that whichever vaccine is authorized first will have limited quantities, initially. We don’t know how much vaccine we will receive to start, but we are working with public health authorities to make those assessments. We know that in line with the CDC’s guidance, the vaccine will be made available in waves, first for certain healthcare personnel, followed by others. This will include paid and unpaid caregivers serving in healthcare settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient facilities, and pharmacies, with the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. Because supply will be constrained, we will prioritize these caregivers based on their work location and role. When we have more information, we will update you with details about how to determine caregiver eligibility and when, where and how to get the vaccine, when available.
We’re preparing for a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020
The vaccine review process is extensive and takes time. However, experts predict a vaccine to be authorized for emergency use by the end of 2020. When initially available, it will be in small quantities and limited to the highest-risk populations. Over time, we expect supply to increase and be made more widely available.