Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


Covid-19 changed the world almost overnight. This taker of lives and livelihoods is also the accelerator of global digitalization drives. While the perceptions about the pandemic vary, demand for a vaccine is univocal. The rush for the vaccine is further heating up due to political, nationalist and capitalist reasons.

Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine – Sputnik V is expected to hit the market this month. In US, President Trump has announced the possibility of making the vaccine available before the impending election on 3rd November.  However, scientists have sounded heavy warnings against any vaccine that has not completed the clinical trials as prescribed by WHO as those might make the health crisis worse.

According to WHO around 180 vaccine candidates are being tested worldwide currently. Most of the vaccine candidates are currently at the pre-clinical testing phase and only nine candidates are in the penultimate stage or phase 3 of the clinical trials.

Great hopes pinned on Oxford vaccine

One of the initial vaccines to have entered the clinical trial phase was the one being developed by Oxford University in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company AstraZenica. Last month two phases of the clinical trials of this vaccine had been completed involving 1077 people, where strong immune response was successfully triggered. In anticipation of success, over 2 billion vaccine doses had already been committed to several nations.

Phase 3 testing of this vaccine candidate involves nearly 30,000 participants across US, UK, South Africa and Brazil. It hit a roadblock when one participant had a “suspected adverse reaction” in the second week of September. According to New York Times, the participant had been diagnosed to have transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord that can possibly be caused by viral infections.

Usually such trials can last years and such reactions from participants are expected. AstraZeneca thus described the disruption as a “routine” pause. Thankfully, the trials were resumed within a few days. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary said that the pause only proves that the scientists have given utmost priority to safety and “will deliver an effective vaccine as soon as safely possible.”

Most eager nations awaiting the vaccine

In the initial days of the pandemic, experts made it clear that developing a vaccine usually takes years. But the need for a swifter and effective vaccine was acknowledged by almost everyone, hence different organizations started working at an unprecedented pace to develop the vaccine.

There are reservations that the first vaccine to win WHO approvals would be distributed to people even if they were partially effective, increasing the vulnerability of the people towards the virus since they would believe themselves to be immune. The same warning was voiced by the Oxford University professor Richard Peto. He further said that despite the strong requirement of a vaccine at the earliest, ample importance must be placed of efficacy and safety.

Peto’s cautions resonated with many nationalities, found a recent poll conducted by Ipsos MORI. Globally, a large part of the population is reluctant to get the vaccine as soon as it is made available. Their main concern is that the whole thing is too quick and the possible consequences like potential side-effects are not yet fully investigated, prompting them to avoid taking the vaccine.

Interestingly, the top three countries most eager to take the vaccine are China (97% people agree to take the vaccine), Brazil (88%) and India (87%), according to a survey by Ipsos MORI. Worst hit nations like USA (67%), Germany (67%) and France (59%) have a much lesser number of candidates eager to take the vaccine.







Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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