A Treacherous Road to Recovery: The Challenges of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Jainil Devani, a first year Medical Student at GMERS Gotri Medical College, Vadodara, India. He is a member of the MSAI (Medical Students Association of India), under IFMSA.. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The entire world has been writhing, fighting, trying to find its way out of a relentless pandemic that has been raging for over a year. Countries have lost their composure, economies free-falling, and humanity has had to entirely rethink its future. In such tumultuous circumstances, Scientists, geneticists, virologists and countless other experts have banded together and in a mighty feat of fortitude, and come up with not one, but several vaccines for COVID-19. While the research continues on at a staggering, unprecedented pace; researchers, doctors and governments are now staring down the barrel of a treacherous road to healing — one that may hold a host of challenges we need to conquer to achieve immunity and prevail in this battle.

First and foremost, the timeline. Different countries are showing different approaches to the distribution timeline. Some, like India, are starting with frontline workers, while the UK has its first focus on the at-risk population. Others, like the US are still figuring out a laid-out plan, among leadership changes. Under the WHO ACT-Accelerator framework, countries will initially receive doses for 3%, then 20% of the population, ultimately scaling up to full coverage.

The amount of doses available plays a very important role in figuring out the timeline, so does the fact that because of the early deployment of vaccines, it is mandatory to keep the patient under observation after administration, increasing the time required for each patient. Other factors like accessibility, transport, necessity, and more – all need to be considered in developing a game-plan. Each country needs to look at the big picture and inspect it microscopically, to understand what works best for them — and have back-up plans as well. For example, only 2.8 million Americans have received COVID-19 vaccines, far short of the administration’s goal to reach 20 million by year’s end.

All COVID-19 vaccines require a cold chain distribution system, some (Pfizer) more tedious than others (AstraZeneca-Oxford). A cold chain distribution system is imperative to help this vaccine reach rural areas, and inoculate a majority of the population. Governments have been steadily working to develop this, but several developing countries still lack the necessary infrastructure and may require aid.

Trials and efficacy remain a pressing question. Some countries are preferring certain vaccines over the other, based on a myriad of factors. While large scale trials for most available vaccines have been conducted, it is not clear how it will measure up for groups with compromised immune systems, children, etc. — and can these groups be excluded from inoculation if herd immunity can be achieved otherwise.

The Double dosage requirement of all vaccines poses the requirement of making sure each person is inoculated with both doses. If not, the first dose won’t provide complete immunity and be rendered ineffective — losing valuable shots of the vaccine is unacceptable, when the manufacturing (while happening on a massive scale) still struggles to meet the immense requirement.

Other challenges also include preventing misinformation, fake news spreading about the vaccine; encouraging people to take the vaccine; and instructing them that once inoculated, they still need to cautiously exercise all health and safety precautions for the foreseeable future. Strict and robust sanctions will also be required to prevent theft and corruption.

All in all, amongst a plethora of unanswered questions, we must carefully mitigate and navigate this road of immunisation. As medical students, we must spread awareness about the vaccine, curb misinformation and encourage people to get vaccinated in the proper timeline. While the future is still cloaked in uncertainty, we can certainly be hopeful that the vaccine is the harbinger of a brighter future, a future filled with hope.


  1. Mills, Salisbury: The challenges of distributing COVID-19 vaccinations — December 8, 2020, The Lancet
  2. Shahidi, Rampal: India’s vaccine distribution challenge, explained in five charts — December 7, 2020, mint
  3. Rao: COVID-19: The logistic challenges of vaccine distribution in India — October 26, 2020, National Herald
  4. Dunn, Bendix: Challenges with US Coronavirus Vaccine distribution — December 31, 2020, Business Insider
  5. Rodgers, Bailey: Covid vaccine: How will the UK jab millions of people? — January 21, 2020, BBC News
  6. Cushing: THE UNSPOKEN COVID-19 VACCINE CHALLENGES – DISTRIBUTION AND CORRUPTION — November 16, 2020, Transparency International UK

About the author

Jainil Devani is a First Year Medical Student at GMERS Gotri Medical College, Vadodara, India. He is a member of the MSAI (Medical Students Association of India), under IFMSA. He also recently stood 1st in a National Anatomy Paper Contest, “iKAL” organised by Saveetha Medical College, Chennai; and has previously contributed articles to The European Sting. Jainil is also a songwriter-producer and his music can be found at: www.jainildevani.com. He can be contacted at jainild308@gmail.com

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

Greater EU Civil Protection capacity needed in light of lessons from COVID-19

The world’s impact in a small Brazilian town and the increased demand for mental health

What will education look like in 20 years? Here are 4 scenarios

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

EU officially launches its first naval mission against migrant smugglers

Half the world’s refugee children not in school, UN agency finds

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

Spread Her Wings: Let Her Fly

This is the environmental catastrophe you’ve probably never heard of

Protecting farmers and quality products: vote on EU farm policy reform plans

Donors must do more to align development finance with climate goals

Can the Notre-Dame fire freeze the ‘Yellow Vests’ uprising?

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

ICC Appeals Chamber acquits former Congolese Vice President Bemba from war crimes charges

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

Here’s how innovation could help car companies hit by COVID-19

Adriatic Sea: MEPs adopt multiannual plan for fisheries

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Latin America, in association with The European Sting

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution can help us beat COVID-19

Dutch voters reject EU-Ukraine partnership and open a new pandora’s box for the EU

How we can embrace the electrical vehicle transition by adopting smart charging

Trade in fake Italian goods costs economy billions of euros

No hard drivers in sight to remodel the stagnating affairs of the EU

Charges against Baha’i in Yemen must be dropped: UN experts urge release of detainees

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

Six months after the Beirut port explosion: reflections from a first responder

5 things you need to know about your microbiome

GREXIT final wrap-up: nobody believed Aesop’s boy who cried wolf so many times

EU Parliament raises burning issues over the FTA with the US

UN Security Council hails ‘courage’ of Afghan voters

TTIP is not dead as of yet, the 15th round of negotiations in New York shouts

The Tears of lovely Memories

Parliament elects the von der Leyen Commission

Boosting the EU’s Green Recovery: EU invests over €2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the economy

The Great Reset needs great leaders to help the most vulnerable

How global tech can drive local healthcare innovation in China

EU elections 2019: Rise of nationalist trends and populism in Europe challenges the EU edifice

MEPs back measures to reconcile career and private life

Fostering global citizenship in medical students through exchanges

Brazilian officer a ‘stellar example’ of why more women are needed in UN peacekeeping

Dreaming of China

Code of Practice on Disinformation one year on: online platforms submit self-assessment reports

South Asia can become an innovation hub. Here’s how

First calls under Horizon Europe to be launched by the European Research Council

European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

How Mobile Technology is Changing the Healthcare System

SRHR the indispensable ally in ending HIV

Mental health in the pandemic: how to stay emotionally stable?

Suicide Prevention: Using Graduation as a Transformative Tool

As the inventor of copy and paste dies, here are other computing innovations we take for granted

Give a chance to the brothers of Ailan: reception of refugees in Greece

Rare diseases are more common than you might think

Coronavirus: rescEU medical stockpile expands in four Member States

Finland has giant supermarkets that only stock second-hand goods

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

Why does the whole world want Britain to stay in the EU?

New rules make household appliances more sustainable

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s