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Saturday, October 31, 2020

What next when Covid-19 vaccine is found?

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Amid talk of vaccine nationalism, news of countries hoarding Covid-19 medication, and vaccine hesitancy, many fail to see the potential good news.

Currently, there are 165 viable vaccine candidates around the world, 26 of them are either in the process of or about to start human trials.

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One of the manufacturers, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, has just struck a deal with the European Commission: According to the agreement, the EU has reserved 300 million doses of a possible vaccine.

The vaccine journey could take us to one of several destinations, which include: multiple vaccines being successful in the end, only one working or none of them could work.

Considering vaccine development usually takes more than 10 years and that the world is trying to squeeze those ten years into 12-18 months, there are a lot of ethical, scientific and logistical aspects at play.

Assuming that at least one vaccine is approved for the market, hundreds of millions, maybe billions of doses, need to be produced according to quality standards. They have to be distributed and priced fairly — how would world deal with that? What would the next steps be? And how much would it cost the average citizen to get vaccinated?

The strategy is to have high-income countries “act as an inclusive international buyers’ group, thus accelerating the development of safe and effective vaccines and maximise access to them for all who need it across the world,” the Commission states.

In the beginning, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands decided to form an alliance and struck a deal with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. While that was happening, the European Commission was still devising a strategy on how to most efficiently ensure that EU citizens can have access to a vaccine as soon as possible.

The alliance of France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands asked the European Commission to take on the AstraZeneca contract in order to fall in line with the joint strategy. That contract transferral is still in progress.

The Commission made an open call to all vaccine developers who have the capacity to manufacture vaccines in Europe and who are either currently conducting clinical trials or will start doing so in 2020.

Who would get it first?
There are no clear regulations as to which population group will get a vaccine first and whether it is dependent on your age or profession.

It is very likely that EU member states will individually determine which group will have first access to a vaccine once it becomes available.

Many assume the first people who need to be vaccinated are those in high-risk jobs, such as doctors and nurses. Second in line are likely those most vulnerable to infection due to their pre-conditions or age.

However, it seems to still be unclear who will be able to access the vaccine after that.

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