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We’ll need more than one vaccine supplier

The country along with the rest of the world needs a COVID-19 vaccine. The government has banned mass gatherings where the virus can spread. But even now, there are so many living in cramped shanties in neighborhoods with narrow alleys and they are all extremely vulnerable.

COVID-19 has already taken thousands of lives in the country. It has taken its toll on the livelihood and the social, political, and even religious life of so many people. It has crippled education, shattered businesses, and sent the country into a recession.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 48 candidate vaccines undergoing clinical evaluation and 164 in preclinical evaluation as of November 12. Pharmaceutical companies have partnered with each other as well as universities and research institutions in the effort to develop an effective vaccine.

This is a unique time and probably the only time in history that the whole of humanity is working on the same goal — that of beating COVID-19 or, at the very least, finding a way for humanity to exist with it.

Of the nine vaccine technology platforms, the one using the protein sub-unit has the most candidates at 76. Novavax and Sanofi Pasteur GSK are among those that have taken this track.

RNA-based platforms like that of Moderna and the non-replicating viral vector of AstraZeneca have the same number of candidates at 31. Followed by the replicating vector of Merck Sharp & Dohme/IAVI at 21 and DNA-based platforms like that of Takara Bio with Osaka University at 19. The other vaccine candidates’ platforms are : inactivate virus, 14; virus particle, 13; and live attenuated virus, 4.

Most of these vaccines have yet to undergo the final Phase 3 testing with thousands of human trials but two – Pfizer and Moderna, both of the United States – have applied for approval by the Federal Drug Administration. They appear ready go into production but the challenge in storage and shipping for certain types of vaccines are already evident.

This is why we should not limit ourselves to just one company or a couple of countries for our vaccine needs. Each vaccine will have advantages and disadvantages over another.

At this stage, we should concentrate on how we can best provide it to the most vulnerable among our people and not paint ourselves into a corner that would limit our flexibility in securing supply deals for the country.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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