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Vaccines Bring Us Closer: A Global Perspective

Global vaccination coordination means countries can now share real-time data on the efficacy of their vaccination programs, and learn from each other’s experiences.

April 26, 2021 / 02:36 PM IST

Brazil and India are quite literally on the opposite ends of the world. Historically, the two giants have had few commercial and people-to-people interactions. So, when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted out a ‘Dhanyavaad’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after receiving a shipment of 2 million doses of Covishield vaccines earlier this year, it marked the start of a new era of global cooperation, hinged on the ongoing fight against Covid-19. It became emblematic of a counterintuitive rallying of the global order, even as each country deals with unique domestic crises brought on by the pandemic.

This global alignment is rooted in the fact that countries realized early during the pandemic the need to share intelligence and expertise to combat the virus. Even as borders were shut down, there was an increase in the degree of cooperation, especially in the realm of vaccine development and distribution. Now, there are institutions guiding these efforts, like the WHO, Centre for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, who employ experts and policymakers to facilitate equitable vaccine distribution across the world.

Several threats loom over the successful completion of this mission. Institutions must plan for unequal access to supplies, security risks in transporting goods, local unrest and a lack of public compliance in different parts of the world, which could still scupper the rollout of the vaccination program. But where there are threats, there are also opportunities. Global vaccination coordination means countries can now share real-time data on the efficacy of their vaccination programs, and learn from each other’s experiences. There are also international mechanisms in place to ward off the threat of rich countries stockpiling vaccines, such as the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Group (COVAX), which campaigns to get extra vaccine shots donated to poorer countries.

But the biggest reason for this display of global solidarity are the obvious benefits of equitable vaccine distribution. The costs that richer countries might incur in donating vaccines to poorer countries are sure to bring great returns on investment, should it help end the pandemic faster and economies recover quicker. The new alliances formed in due course, and the old ones reaffirmed, will help create a more unified world that’s better equipped to handle such catastrophes in the future. For individual citizens too, it’s a moment to cherish and empathize with our common experiences, that have comprehensively trumped our differences.

This new era of global coordination is also engendering an altruistic concern for the most backward and vulnerable, who face the greatest risk of infection, coupled with incomplete access to vaccination against Covid-19. It’s a dilemma that inspired India’s largest vaccination drive, Network18 ‘Sanjeevani – A Shot of Life’, a special CSR initiative by Federal Bank. Join this movement for India’s health and immunity and help spread access to Covid-19 vaccination and information to all Indians. This is our chance to make the world a better place.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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first published: Apr 26, 2021 02:36 pm

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