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Bilateral COVID-19 vaccine deals not good for COVAX, says WHO

The World Health Organization-backed COVAX scheme, destined for emerging countries, is "the only global mechanism to equalise access to vaccines", WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge told reporters.

March 04, 2021 / 05:36 PM IST
Source: Reuters

Source: Reuters

Countries should not agree bilateral deals that undermine the international COVAX COVID-19 vaccine procurement facility, but they also have a responsibility to vaccinate frontline workers swiftly, WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge said on Thursday.

Recent days have seen some European countries looking at securing jabs from Russia or China that do not yet have the European Union's authorisation and sidelining an EU joint procurement approach.

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The World Health Organization-backed COVAX scheme, destined for emerging countries, is "the only global mechanism to equalise access to vaccines", Kluge told reporters.

"What we would like to avoid obviously are any bilateral deals hurting or causing a setback to COVAX which is now is starting to deliver all over the world," he said.


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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But international solidarity does not contradict national responsibility, Kluge added, saying vaccinating frontline workers was essential.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
first published: Mar 4, 2021 05:26 pm

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