Once the depth and breadth of the COVID-19 pandemic was belatedly recognized, researchers across the world have moved at an unprecedented pace to advance more than 100 vaccine candidates. However, much of the infrastructure and funding needed to develop, produce, and distribute successful vaccine candidates has been pieced together reactively rather than through established emergency preparedness frameworks both nationally and globally. Delays in recognizing and responding to the threat of COVID-19, particularly in the United States, have resulted in lost lives and a battered economy. The International Monetary Fund estimates the world economy will face a $12 trillion loss in 2020-2021 because of the pandemic, implying a potential $500 billion gain by accelerating vaccine development by a single month. In the near-term, policymakers have focused on ensuring adequate incentives to develop and equitably distribute a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, but, as the threat of COVID-19 eventually recedes, policymakers need to consider strategies to ensure sufficient investment and interest in vaccine development, as well as surveillance and diagnostics, to respond to future infectious disease threats. This brief summarizes key points from a meeting convened by AcademyHealth in August 2020. Research and policy experts reviewed existing research on vaccine development, manufacturing, and distribution, including financing mechanisms to help ensure access to vaccines in developing countries. Additional research is needed to help policymakers understand what policies are needed to ensure global supply chains are up to the challenge of producing billions of doses of vaccines as efficiently as possible, as well as assess efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop, manufacture, and distribute a vaccine both in the U.S. and globally.
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