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Pandemic Takeaways from Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Some new information on the current status and projections.

See this information that was shared with me by someone who sat in on the call. I bolded those items I thought were new information: 

Top ten takeaways from a group call this morning with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner and member of the Board of Directors of Pfizer.  Also, some additional information as it may pertain to Washington State follows the top ten.

Vaccine is still not fully approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and therefore mandating or requiring the vaccine is discouraged.  Full vaccine approval is not expected until the summer of 2021.

Companies (if open/opening) may create “different lanes” for entry based on vaccination status.

Lane 1 – proof of vaccination (ongoing debate on what constitutes actual proof)

Lane 2 – health attestation, etc.

Businesses can encourage vaccination but symptom checks, air quality improvement, size of gatherings will very likely still be required this fall.

Still many presumptions/unknowns regarding vaccine’s ability to prevent virus transmission.  This will evolve as vaccinations spread and further study is conducted.

Identified the vaccine distribution and approach as a State driven but Federally controlled strategy.  In hindsight this was not a good approach.

Believe it is feasible to have 80 million Americans vaccinated by the end of March 2021.  Dr. Gottlieb attested to supply being available to accomplish this.

After March 2021 – much less restriction on vaccine delivery and more broadly open to “unprotected” classes.

Thirds theory would apply after March – approximately 1/3 of the population actually want the vaccine, 1/3 won’t consider it a priority, and 1/3 are opposed and will likely never be vaccinated.

Medicare is currently the only insurance provider that is tracking who receives the vaccine.  No other vaccination locations are keeping records (U.S. only).

Seeing a decline in the effectiveness of vaccination antibodies against new variants but still effective.  Much more study required as there are currently seven strains of the coronavirus.  The number of antibodies within the individual vaccines will drive longer term effectiveness – more antibodies will defend against more variants of the virus.  The fewer the antibodies the lower the vaccine efficacy.

There will most likely be an annual vaccination recommendation similar to influenza.   

Also I [not Eric] was doing some math this morning after reading the Washington state vaccination goal of 45,000 vaccinations per day.  Our state has approximately 7.5 million residents and a current rolling daily vaccination average of approximately 24,000 doses.  We are also facing a shortage which is why Governor Inslee is requesting more vaccine.  When one does the simple math with a population of 7.5 million the current distribution rate (24k p/day) suggests that we won’t have the state vaccinated for over 300 days (from vaccine initiation – began very slowly as vaccine began to arrive in mid/late December).  If we operate with January 1, 2021 as our moment time/truth and herd immunity arrives at 80%, that will occur around 250 days, which will be sometime this fall.  Hence the need to meet the goal of 45,000 per day and arrive at herd immunity by this summer.  We should continue to monitor the rate of vaccine availability, rate of vaccination, and the rolling averages as reported by the Governor’s office.  This will give us some sense of a realistic “opening” date for our Seattle campus and other business operations.  This information is also likely available on state by state basis which we could likely track as a component of safely opening offices.  I suspect this approach can also scale globally.

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.