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PPE Shortage Briefing

PPE Shortage Briefing: Ramping Up Vaccine Distribution Equitably and Efficiently to Weather the Coming Wave

By February 4, 2021February 13th, 2021No Comments

Currently, three separate variants of the novel coronavirus have been identified. These variants, though not more deadly, allow COVID-19 to spread more easily and quickly, which can further strain our already struggling healthcare system. Public healthcare experts ask that we vaccinate as many people as possible to prepare for these variants. Get Us PPE joins the vaccine conversation by advocating for equitable vaccine distribution, adding that access needs to be open to all Americans for a successful vaccine campaign. 

The Big Picture: Outbreaks Continue As Vaccine Rolls Out

An update on the number of infections and deaths from coronavirus: As of February 1st, the United States recorded over 112,772 new cases and 1,920 new deaths. These figures bring the number of deaths to 439,955. California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas recorded the highest number of new cases, with California recording 134,197 new cases and 40,697 new deaths in the last seven days.

Separately, an AG report finds many nursing homes in New York are understaffed. The staffing issue compounded with the existing PPE shortage in nursing homes is dangerous as the vaccine slowly rolls out and new coronavirus variants spread through American communities. 

Meanwhile, in response to the threat posed by coronavirus variants, President Biden’s administration announced it’s aiming to administer 1.5 million doses of the vaccine per week. The ramped-up vaccination proposal could help Americans prepare for another wave of the virus whose variants’ ability to more easily spread could lead to more infections and deaths. 

Finally, Johnson & Johnson announced its one-dose vaccine had shown promising results. However, the efficacy of the vaccine dropped from 72% to 57% when tested against a variant that’s been found in South Africa. Still, this efficacy rate is still better than most flu vaccines which typically carry a 40 to 60% effective rate. Public healthcare experts recommend massive vaccination as the best way to prepare for the incoming wave of infections.

Translating Our Strategies for PPE Distribution to Vaccine Distribution

In an op-ed, Get Us PPE co-founders and executive board members Ram Bala, Megan L. Ranney, and Shuhan He advocated for a centralized vaccine rollout that uses an allocation algorithm supported by data to equitably distribute the vaccine. Similar to Get Us PPE’s Fair Distribution Algorithm, which we have used to efficiently and equitably distribute PPE. 

Throughout the article, they draw from their experience in PPE distribution to identify three key strategies that would increase the vaccine rollout’s efficiency with an emphasis on health equity. They identify a lack of a centralized response as the cause, in part, for an inequitable response to the nation’s PPE needs and draw a parallel between that response and the vaccine rollout.

Truthfully, we will not be able to close out the chapter on the coronavirus pandemic until all Americans have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. As new variants of the virus begin to dominate infection rates, public health experts recommend we vaccinate as many people as possible as a means to counter this new wave of the virus.

Essentially, we’re back to where we started a year ago when devastating PPE shortages dominated headlines and healthcare experts asked for ramped-up PPE production. Except now, we have the vaccine. We just need to get to as many people as possible vaccinated, as quickly as possible. The clock is ticking, again.

This Week at Get Us PPE

A press release shared by PR Newswire Asia highlights the donation of 1 million masks by MINISO to Get Us PPE. The retail company has been donating masks across the U.S. and Canada, and has recently “followed this initiative with the successful donation of 1 million masks to Get Us PPE on January 20, 2021.” The article further describes Get Us PPE as “integral in getting masks, gloves, disinfecting wipes and more to frontline workers at nursing homes, hospitals, rural healthcare facilities, small clinics, homeless shelters, and indigenous communities.”

CBS News reports on the “100 Days of Masking Challenge” recently enacted by the Biden administration to curb the spread of COVID-19. The article shares insight on masks from Megan Ranney, “I generally ask the public to not purchase N95s because the authentic ones are still in short supply for health care workers.” 

Yahoo Finance interviewed Dr. Ali Raja, Get Us PPE co-founder, to discuss the coronavirus variants and the impact on the vaccines’ efficacy. In his interview, Dr. Raja emphasizes the importance that we continue to mask as the vaccines are distributed. Adding that in addition to vaccination, hand-washing, and socially distancing, “masking is the most important thing we can all be doing.” 

Please help us get PPE to communities at risk. A $5 donation can supply an N95 for a healthcare worker.

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Kat Elieth Porras Gonzalez