There are more than 200 COVID-19 Vaccine projects, but only a dozen in advanced clinical phase- REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration
Since the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, and mankind learned that there was a highly contagious and life-threatening new virus primarily for older adults and people with underlying diseases, a scientific career it was unleashed for having an effective treatment and also a vaccine that prevents the disease it generates: COVID-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has more than 200 vaccine projects underway, although only 25 are in the clinical stage and of those 25 only 10 are in the advanced phase 2/3.
But once a safe vaccine is obtained, which protects against the virus and has no adverse side effects, the big question is how it will be distributed to 7,500 million people worldwide and who will be the first to receive it. To arrive at this answer, there are several criteria that epidemiological experts worldwide consider.
Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is in clinical phase 3- REUTERS / Amanda Perobelli / File Photo
The first hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines may be available by the end of the year to be applied to the most vulnerable people, the WHO said this week.
The UN agency indicated that it is working on that perspective, with a view to achieving 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, as there is a race against the clock for pharmaceutical companies to find the vaccine.
” We are working with the prospect that we will have a couple of hundred million doses by the end of the year, if we are very optimistic, ” said WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. “We hope that by the end of 2021 we will have 2 billion doses of one to three effective vaccines to distribute worldwide,” he said, although he stressed that it is a probability, since until now there is no proven vaccine.
For 7 months, several laboratories have been investigating a vaccine against COVID-19. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File Photo
The researchers are working on more than 200 possible vaccines in the world, 10 of which are already in the clinical trial of testing between humans. “If they are lucky, there will be one or two potential vaccine candidates by the end of the year,” he said at a press conference.
A dozen different vaccines are already at various stages of testing, in Great Britain, China, the United States and other countries. This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, expressed cautious optimism that there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year or early 2021.
Several rich countries have already ordered millions of doses of these experimental vaccines. Britain and the United States, for example, have invested in a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and produced by AstraZeneca. British politicians say that, if effective, it will be used in their country. The United States is expected to start collecting them this fall and has invested in other candidates as well.
Several countries seek to organize what the vaccine distribution will be like in the world – REUTERS / Andreas Gebert / File Photo
Several groups, such as the GAVI vaccine alliance, are also working to buy doses for poor countries and AstraZeneca has agreed to license its vaccine to the Serum Institute in India for the production of 1 billion doses. The distribution will depend on each country. Last week, US officials said they were developing a tiered system for it. Such a system would most likely prioritize groups at highest risk for complications from COVID-19 and essential workers.
The World Health Organization is creating guidelines for the ethical distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 . According to Swaminathan, the WHO expert, the priority will be those at the first line of risk, such as doctors and police, as well as those most vulnerable to the disease, who are elderly and diabetic, to which is added the people exposed in high transmission areas such as slums. “You have to start with the most vulnerable and then progressively vaccinate more people,” she said.
The chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan, during a press conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini / Pool via REUTERS
The heads of the pharmaceutical industry expressed that they believe in the possibility of a vaccine before 2021, but stressed that the challenge is enormous, since the world would require two doses of vaccine per person, or 15,000 million vaccines, according to calculations.
Rafael Vilasanjuan, member of the board of directors of Gavi (the global alliance for vaccination), explained that, for now, the world production capacity is 2,000 million doses per year, while the world population reaches 7,500 million people. in “equal risk”. In the best case, “we will be able to have 250 million doses of vaccines per month if manufacturing increases,” added the expert.
According to their calculations, once a vaccine is available, each country will receive 20% of the dose corresponding to its population , if it adheres to the international initiative Covax facility (Covax system), which seeks to facilitate global access to doses, before of the month of August. The country has to pay in advance that 20% and thus promotes production based on its resources and ensures its quantity of doses. The main objective: to be as equitable as possible.
Situation in Argentina
This month it became known that Argentina was selected to test the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine . The world’s largest pharmaceutical laboratory announced on July 10 that in the coming weeks it will begin testing the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in the country, which is currently producing and is in a clinical advanced phase. It will be just a month after testing begins in the United States.
Pfizer and Biontech have an advanced vaccine that will be tested in Argentina – EFE / Archive
Pfizer revealed that Argentina was selected to test the coronavirus vaccine, which has already passed initial safety tests in Germany and the United States and was authorized to advance to efficacy tests by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the agency of the US government in charge of drug control.
After an extensive analysis of professionals from various countries of the world, a group of Argentine researchers were selected for their logistical capacity and knowledge in viral respiratory diseases, to test the vaccine that Pfizer manufactures in conjunction with the German company Biontech.
Dr. Fernando Polack, director of the Infant Foundation, has specialized in respiratory diseases for 25 years and his work is known to experts in vaccines and medicines against respiratory viruses throughout the world. Polack is the Argentine benchmark to carry out the Pfizer and Biontech startup in the country.
Polack pointed out that “many times, if you have the scientific privilege of participating in the evaluation of a vaccine, you contribute to potentially better position your country in the queue for distribution. Otherwise we have to wait for -in case the vaccine is effective- manufacturing to scale and wait behind countries with more commercial or strategic strength “.
The studies will try to reflect the diversity of different population and professional groups in our country. The tests will be carried out at the Central Military Hospital, and it is estimated that the study will begin in Argentina in early August and will be subject to regulatory approval by the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT).
Experts seem to agree that the first link in the chain to receive the vaccine is healthcare personnel. “It is like in military logistics. We have to make sure that our first line of attack is protected and that way they will be able to care for the sick, ”explained Vilasanjuan.
The normal development of a vaccine takes more than 10 years, but resources have been increased to obtain an effective one against COVID-19 REUTERS / Andreas Gebert / File Photo
But the matches end when you ask about the second group. Some estimate that people over 60 years old or with previous pathologies should receive them after vaccinating healthcare personnel. Others say that boys should have it, so as not to infect others when they return to school. Another priority group are employees who cannot do their work from home and provide essential services, such as workers in supermarkets, agriculture, pharmacies and other entities involved in basic necessities.
Vilasanjuan also believes that the vaccination strategy should be established according to the most affected regions and according to their population density, lack of resources and logistical difficulties. Gavi’s expert cautions that it is important to have a dose reserve for emergencies.
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