Article by: Orooba Tasnim Siddiqui
For almost a year now, the world has been engulfed in constant worry due to the coronavirus. With over 1.41 million deaths across the world and the number increasing by the day, the entire year has been a source of misery for the global populace. However, amidst this air of doom and despair, the year-end has provided fodder to heave sighs of relief. With news coming in regarding possible vaccines, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
The first positive news came from Pfizer who along with their German partner BioNTech SE released initial data suggesting the concoction of a vaccine with an efficacy rate over 90%. However, these vaccines must be shipped and stored at –70 degrees Celsius, significantly lower than the average 2-8 degrees Celsius of other vaccines.
This was then followed by Moderna Inc’s statement which said that interim data from a late-stage trial calculated an approximate 94.5% efficacy in the prevention of the virus and will be made ready for use soon. Perhaps, the greater advantage of this vaccine is its ability to survive without the freezing temperature requirement of the other vaccine.
Similar news emerged from China where there has been an announcement of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine coming to the fore. However, it has come to common knowledge that these testing trials are further being conducted in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil. As per estimates given by officials, around 60,000 people were recipients of this vaccine by early November. There is also news from the University of Oxford regarding their vaccine showing a strong immune response even in adults in their 60s and 70s. Moreover, Russia’s Sputnik COVID vaccine is said to have shown 95% effectiveness.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, Dr. Faisal Sultan, the SAPM on National Health Services stated that the government of Pakistan had allocated funds amounting to $100 million for the procurement of the vaccine. Terming the priority of preserving healthcare workers, he reiterated the fact that the availability of vaccines would most probably be delayed until the second half of 2021.
In addition to these vaccines, a clinical trial at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff is investigating the probability of mouthwashes combatting the virus. It is believed that those mouthwashes consisting of at least 0.07% cetypridinium chloride showed hints of combat against the virus.
In Pakistan, a series of clinical trials are being conducted of COVID-19 intravenous immunoglobulin (C-IVIG) which is a therapeutic exercise developed by Dow University of Health Sciences. As per initial data, it has shown a 100% recovery rate in extremely severe patients alongside 60% recovery in critical patients at the ICU.
However, it is important to note that without proper measures, none of these vaccines or alternative measures can be put to use, which is why the world remains at a standstill. But the brighter side is that following a year of worrying news, there is hope that things might blow over and we can finally revert to some form of normalcy – albeit everchanging new dawn.