By Ahmad Sorondinki
Since 1918 Spanish flue pandemic, which decimated about one third of world population in four successive waves, it is obvious that the death toll was estimated to have reached a heavy toll from 20 to 50 million corpses littered all over the world cities, especially Europe.
In the word of Charles River Editors: “It is hard for modern people living in the first world countries to conceive of a pandemic sweeping around the world and killing millions of people, and it is even harder to believe that something as common as influenza could cause such a widespread illness and death.”
No wonder in the height of Coronavirus pandemic, the whole world shivered with the way the novel virus ravaging from West to East and from North to South.
Apparently, many nations record little successes in combating its outbreak as it is believed to be surging through in the second wave in many regions of the world.
Recent reports confirmed that there are more than 85 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and nearly two million estimated deaths.
The Director General of World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, warned that Covid-19 will continue to spread rapidly in the coming month.
“There will be setbacks and new challenges in the year ahead, for example new variants of Covid-19 and helping people who are tired of the pandemic continue to combat it,” he said.
With the new rising cases, many countries and health organizations have since shifted attention and developed coronavirus vaccine, which has already been authorized by the WHO but, unfortunately this nation – the so-called giant of Africa -has not yet adopt any reasonable measure to locally produce or manufacture local coronavirus vaccine.
However, countries like Iran, India, China, Japan and many more are looking inward to produce locally, since it is believed that vaccination is the safest way to prevent transmission and spread of the disease.
But, in Nigeria where nothing is virtually working, how do we ensure the vaccine’s safety, side effects or if the problem is detected with the vaccine as reported in many countries where it was administered.
According to the WHO, there are currently more than 50 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in trials.
The organization is working in collaboration with scientists, business and global health organizations through the ACT Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response.
Adhanom said: “When a safe and effective vaccine is found, COVAX (led by WHO, GAVI and CEPI) will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries.
“People most at risk will be prioritized. While we work towards rolling out a safe and effective vaccine fairly, we must continue the essential public health actions to suppress transmission and reduce mortality.”
Amidst apprehension over the efficacy of the vaccine manufactured by foreign pharmaceutical companies, the Federal Government has already earmarked N10 billion for the use in procuring the vaccine, which skeptics showed concern, giving reference to the 1996 case of Kano trovafloxacin clinical trial conducted by Pfizer during an epidemic of meningococcal meningitis in order to test its antibiotics.
In the course of the trial, many children lost their lives, while survivors and the deceased family members took legal action against Pfizer both in the United States and Nigeria as well. But, Pfizer had subsequently settled the case out of court with a $75 million.
In recent time, there are growing numbers of people not only in Nigeria but, in other developed world, including scientists who are saying they would not allow any one to administer Coronavirus vaccine on them.
Jackie Schlegel of Texans for vaccine choice said that people are saying: “I have gotten every vaccine, but I am not getting this one.”
New York Times reported that mistrust of vaccines has been on the rise in the US in recent years.
“The fastidious process to develop a safe, effective vaccine typically takes a decade; some have taken far longer. But the administration of Mr. Trump, himself once an outspoken vaccine skeptic, has been saying recently that a Coronavirus vaccine could be ready this fall.
“While it has removed certain conventional barriers, such as funding, many experts still believe that the proposed timeline could be unduly optimistic,” the paper reported.
It added: “But whenever a Coronavirus vaccine is approved, the assumption has been that initial demand would far outstrip supply. The need to establish a bedrock of confidence in it has largely gone overlooked and unaddressed.”
Again it said: “Earlier this month, a nationwide task force of 23 epidemiologists and vaccine behavior specialists released a detailed report – which itself got little attention – saying that such work was urgent. Operation Warp Speed, the $10 billion public-private partnership that is driving much of the vaccine research, they wrote, “rests upon the compelling yet unfounded presupposition that ‘if we build it, they will come.’”
In fact, wrote the group, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Texas State University Anthropology Department: “If poorly designed and executed, a Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the US could undermine the increasingly tenuous belief in vaccines and the public health authorities that recommend them – especially among people most at risk of Covid-19 impacts.
“The researchers noted that although billions of federal dollars were pouring into biomedical research for a vaccine, there seemed to be virtually no funding set aside for social scientists to investigate hesitancy around vaccines. Focus groups to help pinpoint the most effective messaging to counter opposition, the authors said, should get underway immediately.”
According to the newspaper, the current political and cultural turbulence, abetted by the Trump administration’s frequent disregard for scientific expertise, is only amplifying the diverse underpinnings of vaccine-skeptic positions.
They include the terrible legacy of federal medical experiments on African-Americans and other disadvantaged groups; a distrust of Big Pharma; resistance to government mandates like school immunization requirements; adherence to homeopathy and other “natural” medicines; and a clutch of apocalyptic beliefs and conspiracy theories particularly around Covid-19, sometimes perpetuated by celebrities, most recently Kanye West.
“It’s so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed,” he told Forbes this month. “So when they say the way we’re going to fix Covid is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious. That’s the mark of the beast.”
A poll in May by The Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that only about half of Americans said they would be willing to get a coronavirus vaccine. One in five said they would refuse and 31 percent were uncertain.
A poll in late June by researchers at the University of Miami found that 22 per cent of white and Latino respondents and 42 per cent of black respondents said they agreed with this statement: “The coronavirus is being used to force a dangerous and unnecessary vaccine on Americans.”
A Professor of General Clinical and pediatric Nursing science with the University of Florance, Filippo Festini, jumped to the headline for having highlighted the multiple criticalities of Pfizer-bio tech vaccine commercially called Comirnaty.
Another Italian Professor, Salvatore Carrao, head of medicine at the Civic Hospital of Palermo as well as a member of National Scientific Technical committee for the pandemic emergency in which he granted an interview to La Sicilia Newspaper “lack of an adequate presentation neither to the scientific community nor to the medical supervisory bodies, of clear reports with respect to the announcements on the efficacy and safety of vaccine by manufacturers.”
Overall, in the face of global skepticism, Nigerian should establish key aspect of formation and manufacturing process as well as packaging of Coronavirus vaccine. This would no doubt facilitate and make it easier to build vaccine confidence and allay fears of foreign pharms vaccine among the citizens.
Sorondinki can be reached on 08032491556.