The great anti-corona offensive has come to Manipal. This Thrusday, over 12,000 doses of Covishields have arrived at our college town. Despite, the different procedures the government and college administrations have taken across India, the backlash for the lack of control has surfaced, such as the IIT Madras case. Face shields and social distancing aside, everyone’s asking the bigger question: When will the vaccine come for us? Will we be liberated from our homes by March?
Morgan Keenan breathed a sigh of relief as she became the first Brit to receive the dose of the recently approved Pfizer-Moderna COVID vaccine. Western media hailed it as a triumph, heralding the beginning of the immunization drive for Europe. While all this was happening, 932 kilometers away in Germany, failure to procure sufficient batches of the new vaccine has put the senior population at risk. A wave of public anger gripped the youth, since, a German pharmaceutical firm was involved in the evolution of the new miraculous vaccine. Discord has also gripped France, as the French Govt. has vaccinated only 357 people according to the latest count.
Things look even grimmer, as the new COVID variant spreads. Countries like the UK have imposed a strict Tier-4 lockdown, with PM Boris Johnson canceling his Republic Day visit to New Delhi. Speculation and Skepticism are aloof about whether newly approved vaccines will be as effective against these new strains which seem to have mutated rapidly. Countries like South Africa have not gotten their allotted jabs of the vaccine because of companies selectively catering to the demands of the higher income countries (HICs), leaving the poor with limited options.
Despite WHO advocating for fair & equitable access, facts & numerous stories show that this only exists in the realm of fantasy. Even if institutions push for equal access to vaccine shots, it wouldn’t be implemented with equal initiative across most of the world because the term equal is relative in most situations. Policymakers have tried & failed since it’s difficult to handle multiple criteria together such as equal access, combating vaccine nationalism, procuring enough jabs, etc.
Due to the politicization of the issue, making any positive change has become hard. Of the various countries immunizing their populations, Israel is far ahead having immunized 12 % of its population inching closer to that 60-70 % vaccination target.
Despite all this, hope remains bleak across the globe. The only option is to procure vaccines that have been haphazardly approved by their indigenous regulatory institutions because it bypasses the release of the efficacy data & the way initial trials vaccines were conducted. These two statistics are crucial in determining the vaccine’s effectiveness against COVID-19. Unfortunately, this was also the case with India & China, as both countries rushed to get regulatory approval for their in-house vaccines as procurement negotiations with western companies failed. Resulting in both countries opting to use Pandoran vaccines which have no proof of their reliability. Even then in the light of this news, various MICs & LICs are negotiating to get enough batches for their respective populations.
This leaves the majority of the world population at serious risk considering the solution’s intensity. How they will procure enough vaccines to immunize 60-70 % of their population to avert the spread of SARS Cov 2 is a question that remains unanswered.
However, they might go about doing that one thing is for certain. The damage has already been done…..