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The Vaccine of our Dreams — How soon can we get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Vaccine of our Dreams — How soon can we get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Countries and companies around the world have been working relentlessly on finding a COVID-19 vaccine for the coronavirus. Introducing a vaccine to the market can be a cumbersome process from development to trials to approvals. Nonetheless, the entire world is betting on making a vaccine as quickly as possible.

Globally, as of 6:15 pm IST, 11 October 2020, there have been 37,109,851 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,070,355 deaths, reported to WHO. If you consider the unrecorded cases and deaths, the actual numbers are much higher. The global economy is experiencing a sharp contraction, of perhaps 8% of GDP in the first half of 2020. The Indian economy is already in doldrums

No one is safe until everyone is safe:

While the virus has taken a toll on almost everybody on the globe, countries have realised that this crisis cannot be averted by just developing the COVID-19 vaccine. It will also be important to ensure that everyone in the world has access to the vaccine to avoid resurgence. In the attempts to free the world from the coronavirus, the World Health Organisation, the European Commission and France launched COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator in April.

This is an effort to bring together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator focused on ensuring access of COVID-19 vaccines to all parts of the world.

Costs associated with Vaccine development:

Developing a vaccine is a costly process as some experts claim that there are 94% chances of failure for any new vaccine in development. Since the world needs the vaccine immediately, almost every pharmaceutical company is investing heavily in R&D. The US government has paid over $9 billion to seven different companies. These include Sanofi and GSK, Pfizer and BioNTech, Novavax, Janssen, AstraZeneca and Oxford, Moderna, Merck and IAVI USA. While there are some claim that there is not enough investment going into the development of the vaccine.

Herd Immunity

When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection to those who are not immune to the disease. Experts claim that 50-70% people need to be given the vaccine to build a herd immunity against the COVID-19. Some companies such as AstraZeneca and Novavax might be able to roll out the vaccines by the end of this year. But getting these vaccines to all the people necessary to build herd immunity will be most likely not be achieved before the end of 2021. The transportation of the vaccines is also going to play a major role in the fight against the virus.

Safely delivering COVID-19 vaccines will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry. But it won’t happen without careful advance planning. And the time for that is now. We urge governments to take the lead in facilitating cooperation across the logistics chain so that the facilities, security arrangements and border processes are ready for the mammoth and complex task ahead.

Alexandre de Juniac, International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO

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