There is light at the end of the tunnel

Moderna Inc said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second US Company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations. Together with Pfizer Inc's vaccine, also shown to be more than 90 per cent effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available by the year's end.  Other countries such as China and Russia have already begun vaccinations. Russia licensed its “Sputnik-V” COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use in August before it released data from large-scale trials. It said on November 11 that its vaccine was 92 per cent effective based on 20 infections in its large trial.
A key advantage of Moderna's vaccine is that it does not need ultra-cold storage like Pfizer's, making it easier to distribute. Moderna expects it to be stable at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 48°F) for 30 days and it can be stored for up to six months at -20 degrees Celsius. Pfizer’s vaccine must be shipped and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, the sort of temperature typical of an Antarctic winter. At standard refrigerator temperatures, it can be stored for up to five days.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and hopes are rising that we might have a vaccine soon to contain the pandemic. But this also bears asking the critical question, how well are the countries prepared to transport or receive these vaccines. Almost 70 per cent of the global population must be inoculated to end the pandemic, as per the World Health Organization. And this could prove the biggest hurdle, considering many countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America lack basic health infrastructure.
The only way to end this paralysing pandemic is by widening the reach of the Covid vaccine. And that can only be done by building an infrastructure that allows everyone on the planet to be inoculated. No country can do this alone. It needs concerted efforts and generous support from rich countries. Solidarity will help us overcome this crisis. The United States has the world's highest known number of COVID-19 cases and deaths with more than 11 million infections and nearly 250,000 deaths. The Trump Administration has primarily relied on development of vaccines and treatments as its response to the pandemic.
Moderna has received nearly $1 billion in research and development funding from the US Government and has a $1.5 billion deal for 100 million doses. The US Government also has an option for another 400 million doses. The company hopes to have between 500 million and 1 billion doses in 2021, split between its US and international manufacturing sites and dependent in part on demand
 

- Prabhakar Purandare

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