"With the latest positive news from vaccine trials, the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel is getting brighter," said the director of the World Health Organization on November 23, when preliminary results were released.
Russia registered the first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, back in August 2020, Pfizer and BioNTech heralded their resounding vaccine development in late October, and the vaccine announcements have proliferated since the announcement above with CoronoVac and Oxford-Astrazeneca shot.
As of December 2020, clinical research features 59 vaccine candidates, 42 of which in are Phase I–II trials, 17 in Phase II–III trials with no vaccine candidate fully completing a Phase III trial.
On December 9, 2020, Health Canada granted general use authorization to the vaccine Tozinameran, which is abbreviated as BNT162b2.
According to data from the first analysis of clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil, the immunization developed by the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca would be up to 90% effective. Two more vaccines, from the companies Pfizer and Moderna, have also shown similar effectiveness.
There is now real hope that vaccines, in combination with other tried and true public health measures, will help end the coronavirus pandemic. The scientific community is very encouraged by Oxford and AstraZeneca's preliminary results and the other two vaccines but that the latter had a unique logistical advantage in not requiring an ultracold chain.
This vaccine's advantage is that it can be stored in ordinary refrigerators from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and kept stable. This has a lot of logistical advantages in terms of transport and delivery to cities, and rural places around the world.
Final Results of Phase III is Still Awaited
However, the trials' final results have yet to be awaited, as the currently disclosed data is only from two countries. The preliminary results are related to different doses with patients receiving the same dose twice, 62% effectiveness was reported. However, the effectiveness reached 90% for those who initially received a lower dose and then a major booster.
However, this is based on relatively few numbers, and we must wait to see the true safety and effectiveness results. This vaccine is being tested in many other countries and we will soon have data from 60,000 patients, which will allow us to make a much more informed decision.
The scientists stress that the good news is knowing that it is possible to achieve a vaccine against Covid-19 and that everything indicates that there will be many candidate vaccines to fight the disease.
This is very relevant since WHO would like to provide access to as many countries as possible through the COVAX mechanism. Billions of people need to be covered in a vaccine campaign that has never been experienced and requires the expansion of a solid manufacturing capacity in the world.
The COVAX portfolio has to include other vaccines in addition to the mRNAs, such as those from Pfizer and Moderna, because they are easier to use in the field. They will also be needed for different populations as whether they can be affordable will be an essential point to consider.
Equitable Distribution is Vital to Ending the Pandemic
The sort of efforts exerted to develop vaccines against Covid-19 must be manifested when it comes to distributing them fairly. Every government rightly wants to do everything possible to protect its people. But now there is a real risk that the poorest and most vulnerable will be trampled in the vaccine stampede. The director of the World Health Organization said that the international community must establish a new standard of access. "That is why in April, with the support of multiple partners, the WHO established the ACT-Accelerator. This to support the fastest, most coordinated and successful effort in history to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapies," he explained.
The WHO director said that only a fundamental change in funding and focus would realize the promise of this initiative as $4.3 billion is needed immediately to support the procurement and mass delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatment, and another 23.8 billion will be needed next year.
According to Tedros, it is not about charity, but rather it is the fastest and smartest way to end the pandemic and boost the global economic recovery. The International Monetary Fund estimates that if medical solutions can become available faster and more widely, this will lead to a cumulative increase by the end of 2025. The real question is not whether the world can afford to share COVID-19 vaccines and other tools; it is whether it can afford not to"