By Stephen Ubanna
The proceessing and manufacturing of COVID 19 vaccines by top Pharmaceutical Companies, like Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford University, Gamaleya, Bhara Biotech and Novax which had engaged in researches since the outbreak of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus on December 31, 2019 , popular, COVID 19, gives the people, across the global- divide a sigh of relief.
The other Pharmaceutical Companies which are said to have been involved in such researches included Johnson and Johnson, Vector Institute, CanSino Biologistics, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Murdoch. The World Health Organisation, WHO, on its part, is also Coordinating global effort to develop a vaccine , with an eye toward delivering two million doses by the end of 2021. The vaccines, according to an informed source are still going through a three-stage clinical trial process before they are sent to regulatory agencies for approval .Even the North American Country of the United States, US, government ‘s Operation Warp Speed Initiative, OWSI, ,was said to have pledged $10 billion to develop and deliver 300 million doses of the vaccines by January 2021
.As at December 28, 2020, the three COVID 19, vaccines that were said to have been approved by the Regulatory agencies and which had entered into the phase 3 of the clinical trials and found to be effective are Astra Zaneka’s COVID 19 Caccine, Jansen’s COVID 19 vaccine and NOVAX COVID 19 vaccine.
It is instructive to note that more than 60 of such vaccines are still going through the three-stage clinical trials process that is required before they can be approved by the Regulatory agencies for use. Recall that the worst hit countries of the COVID 19, are the US, India and Brazil, while European countries are in the grip of the devastating second wave of the Pandemic infections
. So far, more than 74 million people all over the world were said to have beenminfected by the disease in 191 countries but 42 million had recovered from it even when the vaccines for the treatment have not been developed.
Aware that not many developing economies may not be able to afford the vaccine because of the high cost implication, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General , WHO, had said that the United Nations, UN, health agency would need close to $4.3 billion to procure the vaccines for the world’s neediest countries . This may have informed why he had asked the US, United Kingdom, UK, the European Union, EU, China, Japan and other donor nations to fill the funding gap.
Ghebreyesus, the WHO, Director General, had made it clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’action and money are needed to ensure that the COVID 19 vaccines are available around the world as the Western nations had approved them’’. Already, UK, had taken the bold initiative in vaccinating its citizens with the COVID 19 vaccine that suits their country for a virus free society.
There are indications that Canada and the US , may soon follow suit. An elated Ghebreyesus, had said in Geneva, the WHO , Headquarters, recently that ’’to have developed a safe and effective vaccines for a virus completely unknown a year ago and which have reached the consumer nations in record good time is ’an outstanding scientific achievement’’. It is instructive to note that t the process to develop such a typical vaccine to treat a completely unknown virus takes about 10-15 years in the past. Before now, according to a WHO reports, ‘’ the fastest ever vaccine , for mumps, took four years to process and develop in the 1960s’’.
The Value News learnt that even after it was authorised and fully licensed , it still faced potential roadblocks when it comes to scaling up production and distribution , which also included countries that should get it first and at what cost. But the situation is different under the present circumstance of COVID 19.
The WHO , Director General, had said that ‘’it would be a greater achievement for the world to ensure that all countries, both developing and developed economies, have’’ equal access to the approved vaccines’’. He may have gladdened the heart of many when he said that the UN health agency is working is working with its partners ‘’to ensure that the developing countries have the infrastructure in place to deliver the vaccines to their people’’.
He had said that through its ‘’COVAX vaccine Cooperative and the 189 countries that are fully participating in it, the Organisation had already secured nearly a billion doses of the three potential COVID 19, vaccines. He had repeatedly said that that closing the funding gap by the donor nations is crucial ‘’to ensuring that the entire world is protected’’.
While the WHO, may be seeking for financial support from the donor nations to procure the vaccines for the developing countries, President Muhammadu Buhari, of Nigeria, for the first time has shown that the country can make do with its own finances to procure the drugs rather seeking for loans from foreign multi-lateral financial institutions which are currently been owed over N33 trillion.
Ehnaire Osagie, minister of Health, had confirmed that a Committee had been set up by the government ‘’to select the vaccines that would be most suitable for the country to treat the Paandemic. The government may have set up the Committee instead of rushing to place orders for the shipment of the drugs because’’ different temperatures are required to protect the vaccines’’. The COVID 19 vaccine that may be used in the US, EU, Uk ,China and other parts of the world may not be good for the Nigerian population.
Osagie, the minister of Health, had said that the Buhari Administration had reached an ‘’agreement with the Global Vaccine Alliance Initiative, Gavi, for access to the COVD 19 vaccines’’. He disclosed further that the government have also registered for the Pandemic vaccines with the Global Access Program, COVAX, which is co-led by the WHO, for supply of the vaccines. Going by his Statement, the country would receive 20 million doses of the COVID 19 vaccines soon.
In spite of the fact that the government has placed orders for the shipment of the COVID 19 vaccines into the country from Gavi and COVAX, John Nkengasong, Director of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention had said that the vaccination of the Citizens would not begin in the African Continent until the second quarter of 2021, stressing that ‘’ the need for cold storage of the vaccines would be the biggest Challenge of many countries across the Continent.