XALIMANEWS- If scientists can make a vaccine for coronavirus, when will we get it, how much will it cost and who will get it first?
When scientists manage to make a vaccine against the coronavirus, there will not be enough for everyone, experts lament. Research labs and pharmaceutical companies are rewriting the rules for the time it takes to develop, test and manufacture an effective vaccine.
Unprecedented steps are being taken to ensure vaccine deployment globally. But there are fears that the race to obtain one will be won by the richest countries, to the detriment of the most vulnerable.
So who gets it first, how much will it cost in these times of global crisis, how do we make sure no one is left behind? How soon can we expect a coronavirus vaccine?
It usually takes years to develop, test and deliver vaccines against infectious diseases.
Even so, their success is not guaranteed. To date, only one infectious human disease has been completely eradicated: smallpox. And it took 200 years. The rest, from polio to tetanus, to measles, mumps and tuberculosis, we live with, or without, thanks to vaccinations.
Trials involving thousands of people are already underway to determine which vaccine can protect against Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Right now, in order to be in a hurry, the process which usually takes five to ten years from research to delivery is reduced to a few months. Meanwhile, manufacturing is ramping up, with investors and manufacturers risking billions of dollars to be ready to produce an effective vaccine.
According to Russia, trials of its Sputnik virus vaccine have shown signs of an immune response in patients and mass vaccination will begin in October.
China claims to have developed an effective vaccine that is made available to its military personnel. But concerns have been raised over how quickly both vaccines were produced.
The United States hopes to obtain 300 million doses by January thanks to its investment program to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine.
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even advised states to prepare for the implementation of a vaccine as of November 1.
Some of these top candidates are hoping to have their vaccine approved by the end of the year – although the WHO has said it does not expect to see widespread vaccination against Covid-19 until mid-2021.
But not all countries are able to do the same.
“Each organization or country will have to determine who it immunizes first and how it does it,” said the BBC Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of AstraZeneca.
As the initial supply will be limited, reducing deaths and protecting health care systems will likely be a priority.
The Gavi plan foresees that Covax signatory countries, whether high or low income, will receive sufficient doses for 3% of their population – which would be enough to cover health and social service workers.
As vaccines are produced, the allocation is increased to cover 20% of the population, this time giving priority to those over 65 and other vulnerable groups.
Once everyone received 20%, the vaccine would be distributed based on other criteria, such as the country’s vulnerability and the immediate threat of Covid-19.
Countries have until September 18 to commit to the program and make their initial payments by October 9. Negotiations are still ongoing for many other elements of the allocation process.
“The only certainty is that there won’t be enough – the rest is still in the air,” says Dr Simao.
Gavi insists that richer participants can request enough doses to immunize between 10% and 50% of their population, but no country will receive enough doses to immunize more than 20% until all countries in the group get together. will not be offered this amount.
Dr Berkley indicates that a small reserve of about 5% of the total number of available doses will be set aside, “to build up a stock to help deal with acute epidemics and to support humanitarian organizations, for example to vaccinate refugees who would otherwise not have access ”.
Organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, often on the front lines of vaccine supply, claim that making deals with pharmaceutical companies creates “a dangerous trend towards vaccine nationalism on the part of rich countries.”
This in turn reduces the global stocks available to vulnerable people in poorer countries. In the past, the cost of life-saving vaccines has made it difficult for many countries to fully immunize children against diseases like meningitis, for example.
Dr Mariângela Sim £ o, WHO Assistant Director-General responsible for access to medicines and health products, says we must ensure that vaccine nationalism is brought under control.
“The challenge will be to ensure equitable access – that all countries have access to it, not just those who can pay more.”
How manythe vaccinewill it cost?
While billions of dollars are invested in vaccine development, millions more are pledged to purchase and supply the vaccine.
The prices per dose depend on the type of vaccine, the manufacturer and the number of doses ordered.
Pharmaceutical company Moderna, for example, reportedly sells access to its potential vaccine for between $ 32 and $ 37 per dose (between £ 24 and £ 28).
AstraZeneca, on the other hand, said it would provide its vaccine “at cost” – a few dollars per dose – during the pandemic.
The Serum Institute of India (SSI), the world‘s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, receives $ 150 million in support from Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to manufacture and deliver up to 100 million doses proven Covid-19 vaccines in India and low and middle income countries.
They say the ceiling price will be $ 3 (£ 2.28) per dose.
But patients receiving the vaccine are unlikely to be billed in most cases.
People who receive vaccines through humanitarian organizations – a critical cog in global distribution – will not be charged.
So who gets it first?
While it is the pharmaceutical companies that will manufacture the vaccine, they are not the ones who will decide who gets vaccinated first.
How to distribute a global vaccine?
The ideal vaccine has a lot to offer. It must be affordable. It must generate strong and lasting immunity. It needs a simple refrigerated distribution system, and manufacturers must be able to ramp up production quickly.
WHO, UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières (MFS) have already implemented effective immunization programs around the world using “cold chain” facilities – refrigerated trucks and solar-powered refrigerators to keep vaccines running smoothly. temperature during their transport from the factory to the city.
Vaccines should generally be stored in the refrigerator – usually between 2C and 8C.
This is not too big a challenge in most developed countries, but it can be a “huge task” when infrastructure is weak and electricity and refrigeration supplies are unstable.
“Keeping vaccines cold chain is already one of the biggest challenges countries face and this will be exacerbated with the introduction of a new vaccine,” says Barbara Saitta, MSF medical adviser, BBC.
“You will need to add more cold chain equipment, make sure you always have fuel (to run freezers and refrigerators in the absence of electricity) and repair / replace them when they break and transport them where you need them ”.
AstraZeneca suggested that its vaccine would need the regular cold chain between 2C and 8C.
But it appears that some candidate vaccines will need an ultra-cold chain – storage -60C or less before being diluted and distributed.
“To keep the Ebola vaccine -60 ° C or below, we had to use special cold chain equipment to store and transport it, and we had to train staff to use all this new equipment,” he said. Barbara Saitta said.
There is also the question of the target population. Immunization programs typically target children, so agencies will need to plan how to reach people who are not normally part of the immunization program.
“Vaccines are not the only solution,” says Dr Simao of the WHO. “You need to have diagnostics. You got to have a way to reduce mortality, so you need treatment, and you need a vaccine.
“On top of that, you need everything else – social distancing, avoiding crowded places, etc.