Vax: Do we have a supply problem or a demand problem?

In interesting opinion piece on CNBC got me thinking.

Scott Gottleib — a former FDA chief — opined that:

Demand (for vaccine) is very deep — there are people who really want it badly — but the demand is not very wide.

The specific implication:

Once we get 60 [million], 70 [million], 80 million Americans inoculated, we’re going to find it’s a  more difficult to get people to line up for a vaccination.

The proof points:

> Surveys are still indicating the 25 to 40% of Americans are reluctant to get vaccinated because they are generally anti-vax … or, they’re specifically suspicious of a vaccine developed under Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.

> There are reports that about half of all hospital personnel, nursing home workers and first-responders are declining offered vaccinations.

> Anecdotally, there are reports that many people “at the margins” are willing to get vaccinated but not willing to jump through bureaucratic hoops or stand in long lines.

So What?


The popular wisdom is that we have a supply problem (i.e. too few doses available) but there are about 50 million doses still in Fed & states’ inventory  … with over1 million doses arriving each day.

In reality, we have a 3-fold demand problem:

> Redirecting available vaccine out of inventory to satisfy large “chunks” of current “deep” demand (e.g. me and my 50 million fellow over 65ers)


> Providing easy access for the people who are willing to get vaccinated but only if it’s not a hassle.

A marketing principle is to get your product where people expect it.

For vaccines, that obviously means drug stores … and, perhaps better yet, grocery store pharmacies where inoculations can become quasi-impulse items.

> Convincing the “reluctants” that getting vaccinated is safe and necessary — individually and collectively.

My sense: this will ultimately become the biggest challenge given the broad reluctance to get vaccinated (e.g. less than half of the population gets flu shots) … the presidential campaign messaging to distrust these specific “Trump vaccines”.

Ironically, this may be the constraint that keeps Biden from reaching his laudable goal of getting 100 million shots administered in his first 100 days..

We’ll have more on the subject in future posts…


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