World braces for multiple jabs to stop Covid-19
The world is bracing itself for multiple vaccines to stop the pathogen which may benefit end-users in an apparently trial and error approach
A 90-year-old woman, named Margaret Keenan, from Northern Ireland has become the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine outside trial conditions - marking the start of the UK's mass vaccination programme.
The biggest vaccination effort in history has begun. The first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine arrived in the UK on Thursday – a day after the country approved the vaccine for distribution, according to British media.
With the multiple developments on vaccine approvals across the globe, it seems that the world will require separate jabs to stop the pathogen. And the inoculations got approved in record time – which may benefit the end-users if they can survive the brutal period of the pandemic that lies ahead amid record levels of infections and hospitalisations.
From national procurement deals to shots in patients' arms, there are nine most-promising vaccines around the globe so far, reports Bloomberg. The report says a total of five vaccines are now available in limited quantities, in three countries.
Foreign Policy shows where things stand with the major players.
The UK has become the first western country to authorise the use of a coronavirus vaccine.
The country has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer jab, enough to vaccinate 20 million people – roughly a third of the UK's population – as the vaccination involves two shots administered at least three weeks apart.
Referring to the UK's Department of Health, CNN reports that up to 800,000 doses of the vaccine are being made available next week.
The in-demand vaccine will be distributed early next week to 50 hospital hubs acting as vaccination points, according to the health ministry.
The US Food and Drug Administration will meet on 10 December to discuss whether to authorise the emergency approval of the Pfizer vaccine, and a week after that to deliberate on the Moderna one.
While both vaccines rely on RNA technology, the Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage, but the Moderna shot can be stored in regular medical refrigerators.
Despite the push to approve the vaccines, 42% of Americans have indicated that they would not get a vaccine when it becomes available. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton have volunteered to be inoculated on-camera to promote greater public confidence in the vaccine.
Well before news of Pfizer's effective novel coronavirus vaccine broke, the European Union agreed to distribute any inoculation fairly among its member states.
And though Pfizer's vaccine was developed at home – by BioNTech, a German biotech company – the EU's strict regulatory regime may mean its rollout could lag behind that of the United States and Britain.
Israelis would receive inoculations from the EU's planned stockpile from AstraZeneca whenever they become approved and available in the EU. But it does not appear that the EU-German plan would include vaccinations for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Many Arab states have pre-ordered vaccines from a variety of Western drug-makers, but limited supplies pose a problem when the developed world has bought up most of the first production run.
Egypt and Lebanon have only ordered enough shots to vaccinate 27% and 15% of their respective populations.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have partnered with China's Sinopharm. The UAE in September became the first country outside of China to approve the drug. In October, the Gulf state announced it was also conducting phase three trials of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.
Iran is reportedly developing its own novel coronavirus vaccine, with eight candidates set to begin phase one trials before the end of the Persian calendar. It is expected to reach the Iranian public by summer.
China has five vaccine candidates operating phase three clinical trials, three of which have been approved for emergency usage.
China hopes to distribute its vaccine in the developing world in particular. Countries on China's priority list include: Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Afghanistan.
Russia's domestic vaccine efforts have not been complemented by a stark reduction in domestic cases.
Russia's Kremlin-sponsored Sputnik V drug was registered by the Russian Health Ministry in August and, after being bested by the UK's announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a swift order calling for mass vaccinations of Sputnik V to begin immediately in his own country. The release had initially been scheduled for 2021.
Of 30 potential vaccine candidates developed in India, five are currently undergoing clinical trials, and officials hope to vaccinate about a fifth of the population – 250 million people – by July 2021.
It could be a while until India gets access to a vaccine, though. Neither Pfizer nor Moderna have begun the process of conducting clinical trials domestically – a prerequisite to approval by Indian regulators. AstraZeneca may be the country's best hope.
The Brazilian Health Ministry this week indicated that it will start its vaccination campaign in the first quarter of 2021, and it plans to immunise around 110 million at-risk people then. Health care workers, those older than 75, and indigenous people will be among the first ones to receive the vaccine.
Mexico has indicated that it plans to start its mass vaccination campaign in December, and that it hopes to immunise around 90% of its population next year. Meanwhile, countries like Colombia and Argentina are likely to wait until the first half of next year to have access to the vaccines, but are hoping to immunise between 30% and 40% of their populations by then.
Africa may also become the last one to begin a mass immunisation campaign. The ultra-cold temperatures required for the storage of some of the promising vaccines are still a huge challenge across much of Africa.
Through Covax, a global initiative to provide governments with equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine, the World Health Organization estimates that at least 3% of Africa's population will have access to it starting this year, a number that is likely to scale up to 20% by the end of the first quarter of 2021.