“Vaccines offer great hope for turning the tide of the pandemic around,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus., Director-General of the World Health Organization in his New Year’s message.
But there is also caution. The overall risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection remains, he said, until all those at risk are immunized, not just those who can afford the vaccines. And the COVAX facility, supported by the WHO (for a fair distribution of vaccines), needs “urgently” $ 4 billion, he said, to buy vaccines for low-income and middle-income countries.
The year 2021 will be one of “execution”, in which the beginning of the vaccine will really start to roll, to vaccinate vulnerable populations and health workers, to begin with.
But challenges arise, from supply shortages to a lack of hospital readiness to deal with possible side effects that could occur after vaccination. And this, even though the world is fighting another variant of the virus reported in several countries, including the United Kingdom and South Africa.
The variant is seen to be more transmissible but not more virulent and could reflect the virus’s counterintuitive ways in that it will not put an end to the host it needs to survive, says Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India. .
Regarding vaccines, he said it is important for people to understand that vaccines do not prevent a person from getting the virus, but protect them from the disease (Covid-19). So, despite the vaccination, that person can still infect others, maybe just less, he said, reiterating that public health measures and personal protection (mask, spacing and hand washing) must continue.
Currently, more than 230 Covid-19 vaccines are underway, 60 in clinical development and 172 in the preclinical stage, according to the WHO. As the pandemic year draws to a close, vaccines in the combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford University, Gamaleya Research Institute and Sinopharma have received approvals for emergency use, either on the lawn or in other countries.
Serum Institute of India has an alliance with AZ-Oxford University to make and market its vaccine in certain countries. The vaccine is being prepared for a green signal from the Indian regulatory authority for use in the country after recently receiving an emergency use authorization (EUA) in the United Kingdom.
Ready for side effects
Showing the different levels of efficacy reported for this vaccine (62 percent, 80 percent and 90 percent, depending on the variable and staggered doses), scientific voices call for greater transparency regarding vaccine study data.
Doctors continue to stress the need to prepare the hospital to address possible vaccine-related side effects. The AZ vaccine had to discontinue global studies, for example, to investigate a UK incident that was subsequently removed by the regulator. An incident reported in Chennai was also ruled out by the Indian regulator because it was not related to the vaccine.
Pfizer and Moderna have newer mRNA vaccines and warn people with a history of severe allergies to get them. Pfizer has applied for an EUA in India.
In addition, the Russian Sputnik V vaccine has a clinical trial alliance with Dr. Reddy’s laboratories, in addition to a production agreement with Hetero Biopharma. Other locally developed Covid-19 vaccines include candidates from Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, Biological E and Panacea Biotec. As this is only the local program, the new year will see more activities related to the Covid vaccine, a development that will need an equally dynamic ecosystem to be monitored.