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The challenges of developing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 which is caused by the virus named SARS-COV-2, originated from China and quickly spread across the globe. WHO recognized it as a Pandemic which has till today infected 15.2 million people worldwide and more than 620 thousand deaths. In India it is spreading wider and till now about 1.24 million people are infected and nearly 30 thousand people have lost their lives.

It is a dreaded disease and the whole world is looking for a vaccine to treat the COVID-19 effectively and control the spread of the disease. While many companies are in the race to produce a vaccine, few have already gone into various Phases of human trials. Moderna's mRNA-1273 and Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine are ahead and have proven the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

So now that we know, the vaccines are definitely on the way, the world will face a different kind of challenges. 

Few of the challenges which I see are:

1. Avoiding counterfeited vaccines 

Fake Vaccines! Yes, COVID-19 is a dreaded pandemic and everyone is looking forward for a vaccine. Thanks to Serum Institute of India and Adar Poonawalla that we have already started the production of COVID-19 vaccine in the name of Covishield for India and the world.

2. Vaccine Distribution

Covishield is not a Routine Vaccine: The world will need billions of doses to be manufactured in order for the vaccine to be available in all parts of the World, thankfully Serum Institute of India is one of the only few companies in the world to have the capability to manufacture this volume of doses. GAVI too has tie-up with UPS. UPS has committed a US$ 3 million in new funding and in-kind logistics support spanning two years, provided by UPS and The UPS Foundation to Gavi. This initiative will help COVID-19 vaccine's equitable and timely distribution. However, India will still need its own logistics in order for the vaccine to reach to everyone. We must ensure it is accessible to each person in India.

3. Surveillance during Vaccination and monitoring and follow-up for upcoming doses

Monitoring of people who would have received the vaccine: This is extremely crucial for us to monitor people who would have received the vaccine, in order to ensure they also receive the follow up dose and how are they doing in the long run after receiving the vaccine.

While it is a great thing that vaccine will be available soon, but we should be prepared for a long wait as well. The initial supplies will be extremely limited and the frontline health-care professionals will get the first access followed by those people who are vulnerable to serious illness. To make this vaccine reach each and everyone, India will have to work hand in hand with other nations.

By : Mr. Neeraj Mehta, CEO, Immunifyme

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