Scientists and pharmaceutical companies around the world have pushed forward in their efforts to develop vaccines that could stop the spread of the virus and in the many months of grappling with the pandemic, almost 200 vaccines have been put into development, with at least 15 in human trials.
Now, nearly a year from the start of the pandemic, we have several promising vaccines that have either given limited or early approval or on the brink of going through regulatory approval to be rolled out.
Russia has begun its mass vaccination program against Covid-19, using the country’s Sputnik-V vaccine which was registered for emergency use in August, making Russia the first country to approve a vaccine for widespread use.
According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, more than 40 countries have shown interest in the Sputnik-V vaccine and there have been global orders for 1.2 billion doses. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is also in talks with the Russian institute that developed the Sputnik V candidate vaccine concerning its potential application for Emergency Use Listing.
China has been vaccinating its population for months even though safety trials have yet to be completed. Its vaccine from Sinopharm’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products has been widely deployed under emergency-use authorization with a full approval expected soon.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have also recently granted full approval of Sinopharm’s vaccine, an upward move from the emergency use authorization granted in September, after a final stage testing showed that the vaccine was 86% effective.
This is not the only vaccine candidate from China as the country appears to have made giant strides with the CoronaVac vaccine developed by the Chinese drugmaker, Sinovac. Millions of doses of CoronaVac have arrived Indonesia in preparation for a mass vaccination campaign, with another 1.8 million doses due to arrive by January.
The UK has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine raising hopes of a breakthrough in the pandemic which has killed over 61,000 in the UK. By giving regulatory approval for widespread use of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, the NHS became the first health service in the world to begin rolling out the vaccine, in a mass vaccination program.
Following in tow in the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use after the United Kingdom, are Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, the United States, and latest, Singapore.
Vaccinations rolled out across the United States as shipping companies UPS and FedEx began delivering the first batch of Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 locations including hospitals and other sites able to meet the ultra-cold storage requirements for the vaccine.
Health care workers across the country were seen injecting one another as part of a federal plan to prioritize front-line health-care workers, a sign of hope amid a pandemic that has killed close to 300,000 people in the United States.
Pfizer plans to have 6.4 million doses ready for the US in its first rollout in late December and an additional 30 million Americans are predicted to receive a first dose of the vaccine in January.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are the most recent vaccine candidates to announce that an interim efficacy analysis of their vaccines suggest they are more than 94% effective in preventing Covid-19 disease.
While Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has started to be rolled out across some countries, Moderna vaccine is on the brink of going through regulatory approval in Europe, North America and other regions. Officials of the US biotech firm have said that the vaccine could be available by December 21 if it receives FDA approval.
The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is another on the brink of emergency-use authorization having been submitted to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for approval. Results from its phase three trial, show the vaccine is 70.4% effective on average.
Considering that the US and European nations have pre-purchased billions of doses of the vaccines developed in Europe and the US and also that the vaccines developed in China can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius, it is most likely that developing countries, which run the risk of being priced out of the market, placed at the end of the list of recipients and may not be able to store large amounts of vaccine at ultra-low temperatures, will look toward China for their vaccine orders.
Be that as it may, it should be pointed out that the Covid-19 vaccines developed and distributed so far have been done in less than a quarter of the time it took to achieve the same for mumps, the previous record holder. This, along with the fact that the results are also highly impressive for inoculations developed at historic speed, makes the developments a magnificent triumph and great feat for the global healthcare research community.
The success of these vaccines undoubtedly provides a ray of hope against the grim backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1.5 million people worldwide.