In today's show, we will tell you the latest news about coronavirus vaccines. The first news is from the UK, where the process of vaccinating people against COVID-19 will begin next week. The other news is from India, where the process of making a syringe for the coronavirus vaccine is being done rapidly.
US pharma company Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine have been approved for emergency use in the UK. The meaning of emergency use is that the vaccine will remain in use as long as it does not have any side effects on people.
Britain has ordered 40 million vaccines, of which eight million vaccines will arrive there in the next few days. Every citizen of Britain will be given two doses of the vaccine, which means, two crore people will be vaccinated with the first batch of vaccines. If the experiment is successful, Britain will need about eight crore more vaccines because the population there is more than six crore.
In Britain, this vaccine will be first introduced to people above 80 years of age. Those involved in health and social services can also be vaccinated in the first phase. People who are between 50 and 80 years of age and who suffer from serious diseases will have to wait for the second phase. The UK government will decide the date of the second phase if everything goes well in the first phase.
It is being said that this is the fastest ever vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same developmental steps that normally span a decade
For example, it took 47 years for the polio vaccine to be ready. It took 42 years for the chickenpox vaccine and 43 years for the Ebola vaccine. It took 13 years for the Hepatitis B vaccine to be ready.
However, the HIV vaccine has not been made in 39 years. The first case of AIDS infection was reported in 1981.
Pfizer claims that its vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95%. This rate is based on the final outcome of the trial. But how effective this vaccine is will only be known after it is administered to people on a large scale. The vaccine will be injected on the shoulder of a person through a syringe, just as a Tetanus injection is given.
However, it will be a big challenge for Pfizer to store this vaccine, as it has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius. For this, the production of special refrigerators has increased. But if developing countries like India use this vaccine, then it will be the most difficult task to store it at -70 degree Celsius and make it available to people.
A dose of the Pfizer vaccine can cost around Rs 1400 in India, which makes this vaccine costly as well. However, Britain has approved its use, becoming the first country in the Western countries where the COVID vaccine has been approved for widespread use.
And it is possible that soon this vaccine will start being used in the US too as the country has already given an order of 100 million doses of this vaccine to Pfizer.
Meanwhile, a major update is that a mass vaccination campaign can start in Russia next week. Russia has reported that it has prepared two million doses of Sputnik V vaccine.
This news has also increased the concern of developing and poor countries because, with the introduction of vaccines of different companies in the market, the competition to buy them has started among rich countries. In such a situation, countries that have money and resources will easily buy these vaccines and it may be that the number of developing and poor countries will not even get a chance. If this happens, a large part of the total population of the world may become deprived of the coronavirus vaccine. However, India is in a better position in this matter.
India's first indigenous vaccine named 'Covaxin' is in the third phase of the trial. The cost of this vaccine can be only 100 rupees and it can also become the cheapest vaccine in the world.
Apart from this, the Oxford-Astrazeneca covid vaccine, which is being produced at the Serum Institute of India in Pune, reached the final stage. The cost of this vaccine can be 222 in Indian Rupees, which means that this vaccine can also be cheaper for India in terms of price.
A company called Zydus Cadila is also developing a COVID vaccine in Ahmedabad. This vaccine is currently in the second phase of the trial and the price of this vaccine has not been stated yet.
India is already self-sufficient in making vaccines and materials used for vaccines. Large scale production for syringes used in coronavirus vaccine is happening in India. A syringe can have a 0.5ml dose.
The population of India is 135 crores. The Ministry of Health has indicated that vaccines can be given to those who need it first, which include health care workers, the elderly and the sick. If the chain of infection is broken, everyone may not need to inject the vaccine. Also, children below 18 years of age will not be vaccinated. Because when a vaccine is used on children, its trials are done separately. For this, India may need about 90 crore syringes.
India's largest syringe manufacturing company, Hindustan Syringes have received orders to make 200 million syringes, 10 crores of which are ready. However, India will need much more than this. The COVID vaccine will be injected twice, the second dose will be given 28 days after the first dose. For vaccination on such a large scale, the government has chosen auto-disabled syringes which can't be reused after the first use.
India is not only self-sufficient in terms of vaccines, vials and syringes, but at the moment, every company is working at 100% capacity and preparing for the needs of the global market.
Several challenges like cold storage, waste disposal, trained health staff for injecting vaccines still lie ahead but the first challenge, i.e. development of vaccines, has been successfully overcome.