Australians should expect a ‘marathon’ on vaccine distribution, experts warn


“The vaccine development is only one part of the successful pandemic management. The implementation of Australia’s vaccine immunisation programs will be critical. And for this there needs to be strong collaboration between government, industry, healthcare professionals, epidemiologists and others across the public and private sectors,” he said.

Mr Goodwin said Johnson & Johnson was leveraging its production capabilities globally in anticipation of launching the vaccine but noted there were a number of supply chain challenges to work through and these will take time to work through.

“I’m sure there will be some, let’s say hurdles, that come along the way.”

His comments were echoed by vaccine experts including chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Jane Halton, who is also a member of Australia’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.

Ms Halton said in the panel discussion that Australia was comparatively well placed in terms of supply chain challenges like cold storage of potential vaccines and the availability of “fill and finish” products, like vials, for storing products.

However, these factors remain challenges for the global distribution of products moving forward and Australia will need to work through these when helping to roll out doses to neighbouring countries in the coming months, she said.

“We are going to hit a bunch of barriers in terms of the really practical issues in the supply chain,” she said.

Jane Halton, Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI),
Jane Halton, Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI),Credit:Alex Ellignhausen

“Let’s not kid ourselves — we are going to keep up this marathon all the way through this [next] year.”

Mr Goodwin also cautioned there was “danger” in public assertions that a vaccine would be available at a certain date, noting the public must keep in mind distribution can only occur after products are cleared and ready to go.

“I think sometimes when we’re saying some vaccine is going to be available in early 2021, the population hears that suddenly the whole population is going to have a vaccine available at that time. It is going to take time to work through.”

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