The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has launched a fast-track study to develop a framework for planning the equitable distribution of vaccines against COVID-19. The study, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is responsible for producing a consensus report that considers the following questions:
- “What criteria should be used in setting priorities for equitable allocation of vaccine?
- How should the criteria be applied in determining the first tier of vaccine recipients? As more vaccine becomes available, what populations should be added successively to the priority list of recipients? How do we take into account factors such as:
- Health disparities and other health access issues
- Individuals at higher risk (e.g., elderly, underlying health conditions)
- Occupations at higher risk (e.g., health care workers, essential industries, meat packing plants, military)
- Populations at higher risk (e.g., racial and ethnic groups, incarcerated individuals, residents of nursing homes, individuals who are homeless)
- Geographic distribution of active virus spread
- Countries/populations involved in clinical trials
- How will the framework apply in various scenarios (e.g., different characteristics of vaccines and differing available doses)?
- If multiple vaccine candidates are available, how should we ensure equity?
- How can countries ensure equity in allocation of COVID-19 vaccines?
- For the US, how can communities of color be assured access to vaccination?
- How can we communicate to the American public about vaccine allocation to minimize perceptions of lack of equity?
- What steps should be taken to mitigate vaccine hesitancy, especially among high-priority populations?”
During the open session of the committee’s first meeting on July 27, National Academy of Medicine President Victor Dzau announced that the committee is planning to produce a discussion draft released for public comment by early September, hold a public workshop to collect additional feedback, and issue its final recommendations by early October. The study committee is co-chaired by Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, and William H. Foege, Emeritus Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health, Emory University. More information about the study is available on the National Academies website.