GS 3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease.
A COVID-19 vaccine is a biotechnology product intended to provide acquired immunity against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins.
- Union Health Minister,has said that an India-made vaccine was likely to be available in “early 2021”. The government already has an expert committee on vaccine distribution.
DATA: over 6 million cases and the death toll from COVID-19, India is entering the first winter of the pandemic.
- Has been tasked with the identification of the vaccine to buying to financing the purchase to distribution and administration.
- Will take the decision on vaccines that will be effective for Indian citizens.
- Task force will also chalk out a budget.
- Discuss how capital can be raised for procurement, distribution of the vaccine.
- A high-level panel will prepare a strategy on inventory management and administration.
- Expert committee
- who gets the vaccine first
- how many will be eligible for the early doses
- what the costs would be
- whether there should be a cost at all for the majority of Indians
GAVI Covax alliance:
- Has emerged as the largest coordinator of vaccine development as well as distribution of a probable vaccine.
- Based on a combination of payments by 78 high-income countries and donations
- Aims to ensure that between 15-20% of every country’s population.
- Or at least their most vulnerable, are able to be inoculated first.
- is coordinating the development and implementation of the COVAX Facility.
- the global procurement mechanism.
- will make investments across a broad portfolio of promising vaccine candidates(supported by CEPI).
- to make sure at-risk investment in manufacturing happens now.
- by pooling purchasing power from all countries that participate, will have rapid access to doses of safe and effective vaccines as soon as they receive regulatory approval.
- is working with Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO
- to ensure that the infrastructure is in place
- the technical support available
- to make sure COVID-19 vaccines can be safely delivered to all those who need them.
- is also part of the health systems work of the ACT-Accelerator effort.
- focusing on areas where it has expertise and experience, such as cold chain.
- will then equitably distribute these doses to help protect the most at-risk groups in all participating countries.
- The pandemic comes to a halt when there are enough people immune in the population, and the virus can no longer transmit from person to person.
- two ways we get immunity
- by getting the infection
- through vaccination.
- For many diseases, we build up our immunity by getting the infection in childhood.
- is true of many coronaviruses that exist in the world today.
- The difference here is that this is a new virus that no humans have seen before.
- so it will take a while for that immunity to build up.
- The problem is that if you just have a virus spreading wildly until everyone is immune, there will be lots of people dead in the meantime.
- That is where the vaccines may be able to intervene.
- by generating immunity without facing the consequences of the infection.
- Many countries are thinking, initially, about how to protect those at greatest risk, like hospital workers, older individuals, and those with comorbidities.
- Though the tests were ‘free’, they were first available only in government facilities.
- contributed to a significant pool of untested carriers and a rapid spread of the virus that was only marginally blunted by the lockdown.
- There are at least three Indian companies testing their own vaccines, and so a prohibitively expensive vaccine, besides being unacceptable
Phases/process of Vaccines development:
It is expected that a Vaccine would be developed within 4-5 months.
- Phase 1 – involves a basic understanding of the virus
- to identify the structure of proteins
- Identify genetics that make up the virus
- provides a basis for developing diagnostics kits
- Provides potential treatment options.
- Phase-2 – It involves the identification of vaccine candidates
- by isolating the live virus before inactivating
- weakening that can be used for immunity development.
- Phase -3 – Pre-clinical testing
- is the stage before the vaccine can be tested on human
- Vaccine is tested on the animals in this stage
- to see the response.
- Phase -4 – Clinical trials
- involves testing on humans.
- There are 3 phases of clinical trials.
1. clinical trial is conducted on small group of healthy individuals.
- indicates what is the ideal dose required to administer in the next stage.
- vaccine’s ability to generate an immune response and its safety.
2. the range of participants is expanded to few hundred healthy participants to check the immune response system in the body.
- to check the immune response system in the body.
- also assesses the time period for which antibodies last to provide immunity against the virus.
3. involves a very large group of people to investigate its efficiency among large population groups.
- Half of the population is administered the actual Vaccine.
- other half are administered dummy vaccines.
- Phase- 5: After Vaccine is successfully tested, it would require regulatory approval before it can be produced in bulk quantity.
- Priority–Within the country, it is certainly not clear who should be treated first
- it should be determined by need
- vulnerability or
- some other criterion
- or combination of all.
- Guideline– The need of a policy regarding how much of the vaccine produced should go to other countries and at what cost.
- ensure whether agencies funding the research or
- the researchers or
- government authorities or
- citizens decide on a global policy of distribution.
- Adult Vaccination program:
- at the adult population does not have much awareness right now.
- Vaccination is currently limited to children and pregnant women.
- Distributive hierarchy–The cost of the vaccine and its possible loss will have to be borne by the last receiver which likely to be more needy people of the society.
- If open market forces determine the cost of the vaccine and affordability
- then the section of society most vulnerable to the disease would get left out.
- Affordable prices ensure that more people around the globe have access to these life-saving tools.
- Post-Vaccination antibody tests:
- there will be requirement of reliable anti-body tests that can provide right info on impacts of Vaccination.
- Presently available anti-body tests are unreliable.
- need to have enough doses of the vaccine available
- need to be able to vaccinate enough people to stop the virus in its tracks.
- deliver the vaccine on a scale
- the logistics of preventing infection is everyone is going to be a huge, mass vaccination programme.
It is to be anticipated that vaccine delivery will be a protracted process and it will be a long time before the average citizen has access to it.