In the face of the bad news from Europe and the United States (US), where a second wave of COVID-19 infections is sweeping many communities, it is reassuring to know that vaccines are now being mass-produced and many countries are drawing up agreements with the vaccine producers.
Two US vaccines have reported 95 percent efficacy in their final trials and should get the approval of the US Federal Drug Administration any time soon. The first to announce the success of its final mass testing was US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer with its partner BioNTech, followed a few days later by Moderna.
AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom (UK) and its partner Oxford University then announced they would soon seek regulatory approval in Europe, after its vaccine recorded 90 percent effectiveness. Tests are continuing and will be known next month, said the Oxford Vaccine Group.
Russia had earlier announced interim results of its Sputnik V vaccine tests. It also reported a 95 percent effectivity, but has yet to complete its final Phase 3 tests as required by the World Health Organization. Russia announced that Indian drug make Hetero will produce over 100 million doses a year.
But the earliest vaccine program is that of China where COVID-19 first emerged in December, 2019. As early as February, 2020, China was testing a vaccine developed by Chinese military scientists and has since conducted efficacy trials in Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia.
Last Friday, the Philippine government signed a tripartite agreement with the UK’s AstraZeneca and a Philippine group of 0 private sector representatives. The agreement is for 2.6 million doses of the UK vaccine. Half will be set aside for government frontliners in the anti-COVID effort and half for private sector employees. The vaccines are expected to arrive by May or June, 2021.
These are the latest developments on the vaccine front. We are fortunate COVID-19 cases appear to be under control in the Philippines, although cases are under close watch in three regions of the country – Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.
In contrast, cases are rising in the US, Germany and other European countries, as well as in India, Brazil, and Russia.
The world is now pinning its best hopes on the vaccines that are now in their final stages of testing and approval. As vaccinations start around the world, developing “herd immunity” will deprive the virus of new victims and it should slowly die down.
We will have our initial share of these vaccines around May. But that is still months away, so each one of us must continue to maintain our personal precautions against COVID-19 infection.
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