Addressing the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination

(Hakan Nural, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Iftekhar Ahmed Sakib, currently studying at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

COVID-19 is mutating now and then. Many vaccination efforts are there around the globe. But how to integrate all these efforts is beyond the reach of WHO. Growing competitions between pharmaceutical companies around the globe has been a matter of concern. The vaccination war is affecting the nations too. Countries are now openly engaged in competition to develop the vaccine first. The competition may highly compromise the effectiveness of the vaccine. Effective fund management, researchers and logistic support is a concern for developing nations. 

Tackling misinformation and disinformation and ensuring cyber security related to vaccine development has not been addressed. Once a vaccine was developed, people needed to be properly informed on how to avail the vaccine more than the way they were informed about washing hands. Safety precautions and maintaining hygiene, while injecting vaccines, is yet to be discussed.

Nobody has yet confirmed any specific treatment process for COVID-19. WHO recommends more than 200 treatment procedures. From this, we can hardly guess how a vaccine scenario will look. Above all, once a vaccine is developed, how it will be effectively distributed amongst the people around the globe is the most depressing issue. WHO plans to provide the vaccine initially on a priority basis. Definitely, frontline fighters and elderly people with pre-existing health conditions will get the priority. But no set of guidelines have not yet been formulated.

WHO, CEPI, and the Gates Foundation are committing money and organizational resources for the prospect that several vaccines will be needed to prevent continuing COVID-19 infection. However, tackling corruption and effective fund management in vaccines will definitely be a challenge for a developing nation like Bangladesh. 

Seems a folly to rush towards a vaccine in 2020 if it is likely to have only limited benefit to people and put healthy people at risk. The risk goes far beyond the dangers a COVID-19 vaccine alone may hold. Public support for vaccines in general is already an issue. Trust in other life saving vaccines will be eroded if a COVID-19 vaccine goes wrong and many more people-children especially-will be at risk. Yes, we are all increasingly longing for an end to the outbreak. But a safe vaccine, effective for all those at risk, is worth the wait.

‘Prevention is better than cure’. No one can deny that a vaccination will ramp up our efforts to tackle the pandemic. But vaccination is not the ultimate solution. COVID-19 will persist even after effective vaccination. All we have to do is start adapting our lifestyles with COVID-19. When a vaccine comes finally, the world needs to start anew. We all need to embrace the new normal. Till then keep washing hands and stay home, stay safe.

About the author

Iftekhar Ahmed Sakib is currently studying at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. In spite of being a medical student, he is an outstanding munner, debater, public speaker, writer and mentor. He was awarded ‘The Emerging Young Leader’ by South Asia Partnership-Nepal in 2018. He also presided over sessions organized by Tribhuvan University, Nepal, as a Guest Speaker. He has attended many esteemed conferences in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. He was the Secretary of Publication of Notre Dame International Understanding and Relation Club(NDIURC) and the Editor of ‘Jogajog’(annual magazine of NDIURC).  He is serving as The Local Committee Secretary of ShSMC LC, BMSS, IFMSA. He has numerous newspaper articles and published renowned magazines. He has served as the executive board member of more than 20 International MUNs. He is serving as the Advisor of Seize The Day.  He also served as the Judge of many esteemed public speaking competitions, debates, essay and article competitions, Olympiads and so forth. He loves volunteerism, he loves to serve humanity. He inspires to bring a change, to do something for his community for a better world. 

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