Health

Corona crisis: vaccine good, everything good? – Pledge Times

A.In view of the rapidly increasing number of infections, the measures against the coronavirus are being tightened these days. Now the restrictions on public life are one thing, the economic effects quite another. And again and again it is said: We can only return to normal with a vaccine. But that is only the half truth. It still takes until a nationwide vaccination campaign and many questions have to be clarified beforehand.

One thing is certain: the international research community has achieved an immense achievement within a few months. The World Health Organization now has around 200 vaccine projects, around a dozen of which are in the third study with tens of thousands of subjects. Two potential vaccines are already being evaluated by the European Medicines Agency in an accelerated process. One or more approvals could follow in the next few months – and yet this is basically just one more intermediate step.

It will be a long time before everyone who wants to be vaccinated can also be vaccinated. Many vaccine manufacturers have been ramping up their production for a long time, at their own risk, without knowing whether their product will be successful. However, the doses will not be enough directly. Companies and politicians have to make this clear, otherwise false hopes will be aroused.

It is now up to the authorities and institutions to decide which groups can and should be vaccinated first and who, conversely, initially goes empty-handed. Priority must certainly be given to medical and nursing staff who are inevitably exposed to a higher risk through their work. But who comes after? Teachers, civil servants, train and flight attendants who also have a lot of professional contact with changing groups of people? Elderly, people with previous illnesses? Or rather the younger ones, who would no longer endanger the risk patients so much? To make matters worse, not every vaccination will be equally suitable and tolerable for everyone. So far, there are only a few studies on the effect on children.

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When it comes to the important question of distribution, it is important to look for a solution transparently and not to lapse into national activism. The rich countries have been securing hundreds of millions of doses from the most advanced companies for months, either through direct contracts or strong financial support for clinical development and production expansion. There are also initiatives and alliances for poorer and smaller countries, such as Covax, that want to secure access for such nations. Many countries, including Germany, have already made funding commitments. Many pharmaceutical companies also participate. But important nations like the United States, Russia and China have not yet been included.

The price must not be everything

In any case, the question arises as to what there is still to be distributed when rich nations have supplied themselves in advance. Pharmaceutical companies and rich countries also have a special responsibility when it comes to the price of a vaccine. It must not be the (sole) decisive factor, otherwise a pandemic will be difficult to defeat in a globalized world.

What should also not be forgotten: Similar to a flu vaccination, a corona vaccine will not protect everyone, but only a certain percentage. The American FDA, for example, has specified a minimum value for effectiveness of 50 percent. Of course, the companies are working hard to achieve the highest possible effectiveness for a broad mass. The findings of the next months and years will certainly also serve this purpose, in which we will also see how long the immunity lasts. But it is by no means the case that with the approval of the first vaccines everything is overcome, as is often suggested and expected out of ignorance.

No question about it, in these times it is important to inspire confidence. There will be vaccines and drugs to help contain the pandemic. But exaggerated promises can lead to the public expectation of an imminent panacea – and to premature carelessness in dealing with the pandemic. National activism, as has been shown in America, Russia and other countries, can also backfire and lead to skepticism and distrust among the population. This plays into the hands of conspiracy speakers and opponents of vaccination, who can seriously disrupt the fight against the pandemic.

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