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Last Updated : Aug 14, 2020 07:24 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

COVID-19 vaccine will be free for Americans: Officials

Washington has invested more than $10 billion in six vaccine projects and signed contracts guaranteeing the delivery of hundreds of millions of doses should they be approved following clinical trials.

AFP
Representative image
Representative image

If a COVID-19 vaccine is proven effective, the US will ensure it's distributed for free to all Americans, officials said Thursday, underscoring there will be no shortcuts on safety.


"We are not at all reducing the regulatory rigor with which we will evaluate and hopefully approve vaccines," Paul Mango, a senior health department official, told reporters.

Washington has invested more than $10 billion in six vaccine projects and signed contracts guaranteeing the delivery of hundreds of millions of doses should they be approved following clinical trials.

The vaccine doses themselves will be paid for by the government.

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Doctors or clinics that administer them will have to be paid but these costs should mostly be covered by private and public insurers.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"Most" commercial insurers have agreed to waive any out-of-pocket costs to their customers, said Mango.

"We are on track to deliver hundreds of millions of doses by January 2021," he added.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said he was "cautiously optimistic" that at least one of the six vaccines the US had invested in would come through by the end of the year.

Critics of President Donald Trump have expressed worries that the administration may bypass safety precautions to announce a vaccine is available before the election on November 3 -- a charge Mango denied.





"We are not at all reducing the regulatory rigor with which we will evaluate and hopefully approve vaccines," he said.

Russia this week approved a vaccine even before the start of the last phase of clinical trials, in which the drug is injected into tens of thousands of volunteers to verify its effectiveness and safety.

"I hope that the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective, but I seriously doubt that they've done that," Anthony Fauci, the United States' top infectious disease official said at a virtual panel hosted by National Geographic.

Collins compared Russia's vaccine, which they have dubbed "Sputnik V" after the Soviet Union's pioneering satellites, to a game of "Russian roulette."






First Published on Aug 14, 2020 07:24 am
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