US President-elect Joe Biden will let health experts decide who will get a COVID-19 vaccine in the country first, according to Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of his coronavirus advisory board. Since the risk for COVID-19 can vary among different groups of people, prioritization for a vaccine will be tricky, and Biden will leave those decisions to health experts, the Indian-American infectious disease physician said.
It is expected that there will likely be a limited supply of coronavirus vaccine doses available immediately after a vaccine is authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration. “Other than health care workers, others who will be first in line to get it will be people who do have chronic underlying medical conditions who are older, as well as communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic,” Gounder told CNN on Friday.
The country’s death toll since the pandemic’s start is now more than 264,000. And nearly another 60,000 people could lose their lives over the next three weeks, according to an ensemble forecast published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week. “Now among those groups is where it starts to get a little bit more contentious,” she added. “How do you prioritize between the 85-year-old woman in a nursing home, versus the 65-year-old African American — especially when that 65-year-old may be as just as high-risk of significant disease?” The CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) will recommend groups to receive the vaccine first.
“That’s where it gets a bit more political and frankly, this is where the President-elect is leaving it to the public health experts and scientists to figure out how best to allocate the limited supply first,” said Gounder, who was named by Biden earlier this month to his coronavirus advisory board. The ACIP called an emergency meeting for December 1, where they will vote on the very first group to get a vaccine.