THE world is gradually making important headways in the concerted efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Gone are the days when lack of the simplest inputs of protecting the people and the heroic medical workforce, such as nose-masks, hand sanitisers, personal protective equipment, respirators and ventilators held even the most advanced and powerful countries like US, UK, Italy, Spain and others to ransom.
Five months after the World Health Organisation, WHO, finally declared COVID-19 a pandemic, efforts to develop vaccines to eventually nail down the scourge are bearing heartwarming results. The WHO says that no less than 23-candidate vaccines are at the various stages of scientific validation. Of particular interest is the candidate vaccine developed by the highly reputable University of Oxford. According to the institution’s experts, it uses a chimpanzee cold virus to deliver the gene for the coronavirus spike protein to human cells.
This vaccine has been successfully tested on 1,000 human volunteers. It has been found to be effective in preventing the replication of coronavirus, protecting against infections and with no serious side effects. The WHO, however, cautions that the road to Uhuru is still a long one, as this and other candidate vaccines still need to be tested in larger human populations, especially in endemic countries.
So far, two million doses of the Oxford vaccine have been commissioned for production in the UK and India within the next one year. More must be done to cover the over seven billion people in the world. We hope the scientific community, working with the WHO, governments and the donor groups will help fast-track the development of safe and effective vaccines within the next few months to arrest the galloping infection rates and fatalities. As at Sunday, August 2, 2020, the global snapshot of the pandemic showed 18,071,811 confirmed cases with 689,892 deaths.
This shows that the pandemic is not about to slow down. The only decisive way to halt it is to perfect these vaccines and make them freely and readily available to people throughout the world. Obviously, the only vaccine administration that can work is the one that does not pander to profiteering. The spirit of sharing which became dominant during this pandemic must also rule the production and distribution of the vaccines.
If any part of the world is neglected because they cannot afford the vaccines, there will be endless waves of reinfections. While we wait for the coming of the vaccines, we must continue to maintain the safety protocols of social distancing, wearing of nose-masks in the public, handwashing with soap under running water and the use of hand sanitisers. Only those who survive to be eventually vaccinated will declare victory over the covid-19 pandemic. Be among them.