Vaccines for COVID-19 are on their way – but much work remains to be done to ensure a safe and effective rollout across Canada, says renowned public health expert Vivek Goel.
“It's simply miraculous what has been accomplished in the past year in the development of the new vaccines,” says Goel, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and a special adviser to the president and provost who is helping guide the university’s COVID-19 planning efforts.
“While there's a lot of attention on the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine, we have to remember there are many other critical components and this is going to be an incredible exercise in co-ordination.”
In episode 33 of the What’s Next? COVID-19 podcast, Goel – the founding head of Public Health Ontario, which was set up in response to the 2003 SARS outbreak – discusses what will be involved in managing and delivering an immunization program on such a massive scale. That includes determining where people can receive the vaccine and sourcing equipment such as needles, syringes, cotton swabs and personal protective equipment for those running the program. People will also be needed to book appointments, manage lineups, administer the vaccine and handle cleaning and infection control of the spaces. Others will be needed to track adverse events and follow up with patients when a second dose is required. Monitoring and serological studies will also be required to track immunity.
“It is simply unrealistic to expect that this can, or should, be done quickly if it's going to be effective and safe,” Goel says. “But this is the best glimmer of hope that we've had in some time.
“There's still a lot of work to be done, and many pitfalls to overcome, but we can see an end in sight for this pandemic.”
The COVID-19: What’s Next podcast is created by Goel in collaboration with a University of Toronto Communications team led by producer Lisa Lightbourn.
Note: The information in this podcast is current as of the posting date. Listeners should consult their local public health agency for the latest information in their jurisdiction.