Pfizer Inc. and Moderna, Inc., have announced promising early results from Phase 3 of their COVID-19 vaccine trials. Additional promising results are hoped for from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca soon, and perhaps from others later. Developing a vaccine is one thing, however. Distributing it is another. Indeed, managing the COVID-19 supply chain will pose tremendous logistical challenges for healthcare providers and at all levels of government unequalled for any other pharmaceutical product in history – and the stakes could not be higher. A complicating factor is, undoubtedly, the turnover of presidential administrations. And while a carefully coordinated handoff from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration would, no doubt, be ideal, that may not be forthcoming. However, this turnover also provides an opportunity to reconsider and optimize the role the federal government could play in distributing COVID-19 vaccines to the US population.
Recently, we wrote an article in Law360, describing “Key Government Tools for Addressing National PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Shortages.” Many of the observations in this article concerning how the federal government can normalize and optimize the supply of PPE to healthcare providers hold true for COVID-19 vaccine distribution as well – as we shall discuss here.