Posted: Saturday November 14, 2020 5:55 PM
The coronavirus pandemic which continues to spread uncontrollably across the planet has pushed the entire world to move in an environment marked by uncertainty, panic and hope. All this to obtain as soon as possible a vaccine which will initially stop the spread of infections – and consequently deaths -. The goal will then be to eradicate COVID-19 as much as possible.
That is why, practically at the same time as the onset of the pandemic, a race against time began in the search for the long-awaited cure; research that has evolved surprisingly quickly compared to the conventional time required to create, develop and distribute a vaccine. This race seems to have paid off, as the world population currently has up to 12 trials which are in phase three.
What does it mean? That thousands of volunteers are already receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to see how effective it is and to find out if it causes side effects in people who have received the doses. At this point in the research, we are closely observing how volunteers respond to this trial, as any unforeseen event could prevent its distribution and commercialization.
If this phase is exceeded, we would move on to the fourth: here the effectiveness and possible side effects of the vaccine are still being studied, as well as how our body reacts to the administered dose. But this is already being done while it is licensed and offered for sale on a limited basis. Therefore, the sample of people used to discover their possibilities is even higher. This is the last step in research before mass marketing.
What trials are about to reach this state? We know that the one conducted by the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca in the UK is in a very advanced research period. But this is not the only one: Janssen with Johnson & Johnson (USA and Belgium); Sinovac, the Wuhan and Beijing Biological Institutes with Sinopharm and CanSino Biological with the Beijing Biotechnology Institute (China); Novavax and Moderna with the National Institute of Health (USA); the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute with the University of Melbourne (Australia); and the Indian Council for Medical Research-National Institute of Virology with Bharat Biotech. All of these vaccine development projects are already in phase three.
But, without a doubt, the one that has raised the most expectations in recent weeks is the one that Pfizer has developed with BioNTech and Fosun Pharma, in a collaborative project between the United States and Germany. Recently, the American pharmaceutical company announced that its vaccine is more than 90% effective, although the data is preliminary and requires very specific characteristics in order not to lose effectiveness, such as its distribution at 75-80 degrees below zero. . To get it where it’s needed, Pfizer plans to use GPS-monitored dry ice containers.
The Pfizer vaccine, a “manual of instructions we give our bodies to make the viral protein”
This fervent candidate for saving humanity is based on messenger RNA, a technology designed to elicit an immune response without using pathogens. In the words of journalist Graziella Almendral, it is “a manual of instructions that we give our bodies to generate the viral protein, which is protein S”. And he clarified: “Once it generates it, our immune system reacts and creates the antibodies, so we are already defended and we have all the awakened immunity”.
Pfizer has also reported, in conjunction with feverish optimism stemming from its vaccine’s effectiveness – the IBEX 35 ended its best week in decades thanks to the announcement – that it plans to deliver 50 million doses. in the rest of 2020, and up to 1.3 billion in 2021 worldwide. Indeed, its creator, Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, has already predicted that we will have a “normal life” in mid-2021.
When will this vaccine arrive in Spain?
Hours after the pharmaceutical company’s announcement, Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said the goal is to start vaccinating “before May”, and the government will get 20 million doses that will treat ten million people and that they will be administered according to “technical criteria” developed in line with other countries of the European Union. In addition, these will be made available to the population through the national health system, although it is not yet clear how much the purchase and distribution of these doses will cost public funds.
In this section, two clear questions are suspended: where can the mass manufacture of vaccines take place and who will set the price? India holds the key to saving the world from the coronavirus. 60% of vaccines in the world are produced there because development costs are cheaper. It is estimated that at least 2.6 billion doses will be manufactured in this territory in the coming months. However, the Indian authorities have already warned that part of what is produced will remain there.
But neither Spain nor the rest of the EU is at risk from the Pfizer vaccine. Our country, adhering to the centralized purchase of the European Union, would also receive 10% of other vaccines. That is: 31 million of those produced by AstraZeneca, the first three of which should arrive in the coming weeks; 20 million of the Janssen and Jonhson & Johnson antidote in Europe; And 30 doses more than that of Sanofi, or 15 million vaccines for the Spaniards. Until then, however, we must continue to strictly adhere to prevention and safety measures (from masks to interpersonal distance) to avoid contagion.