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by Tushar Kanti

COVID 19: The Battle is far from over

India began its largest vaccine drive on the 16th of January 2021 creating hopes for millions of people and to a country which has been devastated by the global pandemic. But miles away, the shared hope to win the battle against the COVID-19 in in question. Nearly 23 people died in Norway after receiving the first dose of COVID vaccine. Of those deaths, 13 have been autopsied, with the results pointing at the common side effects may have contributed to severe reactions in elderly people, according to the 'Norwegian Medicines Agency'.

It was quick to garner impressions on the social media platforms:

In a public statement, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said : “For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences". It further added: “For those who have a very short remaining life span anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant.”

Pfizer and BioNTech are working with the Norwegian regulators to investigate the deaths in Norway. The agency found that “the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations."

Allergic reactions have been rare. According to the reports, in the United States, authorities reported 21 cases of severe allergic reactions after administration of about 1.9 million initial doses of the vaccine which puts the incidence at 11.1 cases per million doses.

But what needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that most of the administered doses were on people aged in their early 50's. 

The stats however have been fruitful so far in many regards:

Earlier in France, a person died within two hours of the vaccination. However, a further investigation revealed that the death had no link with the vaccine being administered.

The first survey report of  the vaccine in Europe is due to the end of January which will reveal the true efficiacy of the vaccine.

One fact that cannot be contradicted is there seems to be a hurry to implement the vaccination programme.The focus seems to be on rapid development alone, fired by unprecedented political, popular and financial pressures while irreparably damaging public confidence. Even India's vaccination drive has been questioned regarding transparency and the implementation of necessary procedure.

When scientists began the development of a vaccine for the COVID-19 in the early 2020, they did not issue a sooner date since the fastest any vaccine had previously been developed, from sampling to approval, was four years, for mumps in the 1960s. But by December 2020, several giants had begun trial of the COVID vaccine. 

Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts stated: “It shows how fast vaccine development can proceed when there is a true global emergency and sufficient resources. It has shown that the development process can be accelerated substantially without compromising on safety", to substantiate, he cited the use of RNA (mRNA) as a breakthrough development.

In its most recent re- tweet, BioNTech showed the efficiacy of the vaccine:

However, many grey areas still exist:

The race to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus seems to being implemented without taking into consideration much precautions and the necessary procedures needed for a vaccine. It reminds of the nuclear or the space race but we forget that here, billions of lives are directly at stake. The future of this battle still remains uncertain. With doubts arising over the safety of the vaccines, mutation of the virus like the recent ones in the UK and South Africa, the battle is still far from over.

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January 23, 2021



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