2020 will be remembered not only for a virus that changed our lives, some of our perspectives, our working conditions, health care but also for the fear, the panic, the doubts, the questions and as the year ends, maybe some hope…

The ‘hope’ seems to be in a vaccine and there seems to be an unquestionable faith in it. The world seems to be happy with an ‘untested’ vaccine as long getting vaccinated will ensure that they can travel, party and do all the things they could before 2020.

Know the Vaccine Frontrunners

Extraordinary efforts are in place to get the vaccine administered worldwide so that there are now scores of vaccines which are being tested and there are several pharmaceutical companies who are running this race. Here’s a look at some of the front runners.

Pfizer and BioNTech

Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine candidate was supposedly found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19. Based on their current projections they expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has been given emergency use authorization by the UK, US among many other countries.

However vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is said to be not feasible for developing countries like India due to the requirement of a sub-zero ultracold storage facility. Also per latest reports, India may not purchase Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine due to its high cost.

Moderna Inc.

According to reports, Moderna Inc.’s vaccine is “safe and effective” for preventing Covid-19, and in the race to quickly gain emergency authorization.

Gamaleya National Centre, Russia and Dr Reddy’s Lab, India

Russian coronavirus vaccine developers claimed that Sputnik V vaccine has been found to be 91.4 per cent effective in providing protection from COVID-19. Gamaleya National Centre Russia is developing the vaccine in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Lab in India.

The Serum Institute of India

The Serum Institute of India is conducting Phase 3 trials of the Oxford University vaccine called Covishield said it was aiming to produce 100 million doses by December. Serum Institute might get emergency-use authorization by December if late-stage trial data showed that the vaccine candidate provided effective protection from the virus.

Bharat Biotech

Indigenously developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR has also started the phase-3 clinical trials. After successful completion of the interim analysis from the Phase 1 & 2 clinical trials of COVAXIN, Bharat Biotech received DCGI(Drugs Controller General of India) approval for Phase 3 clinical trials in 26,000 participants in over 25 centres across India.

Zydus Cadila

Drug firm Zydus Cadila has received approval from the DCGI to start the phase-three clinical trials of the indigenously-developed coronavirus vaccine candidate, ZyCov-Di.

Vaccination Roll-out Plan in India

As per the vaccine administration plan, healthcare, sanitation, security personnel and frontline workers, those above 50 years of age and younger people with comorbidities are identified in the first phase starting January and once the approvals are in place. The vaccination program aims to reach 300 million people by early August 2021. Read more here

Know About Vaccine Injuries & Side Effects

Hardly spoken of are some of vaccine injuries or side effects. The following are only some of the injuries, mostly in the case of children though it may affect only a certain percentage of the population.

  • Vision defects
  • Stunted growth
  • Paralysis
  • Hearing problem
  • Bowel problems
  • Autism
  • Allergies
  • Bell’s palsy

Recently four volunteers developed facial paralysis symptoms after getting the Pfizer Vaccine shots. Read more here.

In 2009, cervical cancer vaccine was administered to thousands of girls in Andhra Pradesh. These girls were aged between nine and fifteen and were administered the vaccine in three rounds under the supervision of state health department officials. The vaccine used was Gardasil, manufactured by Merck. Months later, many girls started falling ill and by 2010 five of them died. Two more deaths were also reported from Vadodara, Gujarat, where an estimated 14,000 children studying in schools meant for tribal children were also vaccinated with another brand of HPV vaccine, Cervarix, manufactured by GSK. Though the government had stopped the trials, three doses had already been administered to 30,000 participants. It is interesting to note that these were funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Questions that remain answered

  • How many doses will be needed? Do we have enough information yet? Both the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine are two-dose vaccines which means that once people receive an initial shot they will need to return for an additional injection.
  • The Serum Institute of India is funded by the Gates Foundation. Even if we don’t ask why a software giant is the biggest promoter of vaccination, we should definitely look at their history. To add to that Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of SII says that the Government must protect vaccine makers against lawsuits.
  • How long will the immunity(if any?) last?
  • What is the rationale behind administering the vaccine to the 90 year old Margaret Keenan or to the 81 year old actor Sir Ian McKellen?
  • Will vaccination be a mandate to be at work, to travel? Though per the latest reports, the vaccination will be on voluntary basis in India but still ‘advisable’.
  • Will vaccination be a mandate for children to attend school?
  • Now that UK has identified a new variant of the coronavirus, will it impact the current trials?

Covid 19 Recovery

The COVID 19 Recovery rate in India is over 90% going by the official figures. If these figures are correct, it is difficult to understand the vaccination drive and the emergency push. Perhaps it is worthy to look deeper into our traditional medicinal systems, developing immunity and choosing the mode of treatment and/or prevention wisely rather than blindly believing that vaccination is the answer.

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