Scenario of controversy needs and challenges for the COVID-19 vaccine

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Guilherme Lopes Coelho, a fifth-year medical student at the Centro Universitário de Valença  (UNIFAA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 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.


The vaccine is an achievement of the modern world, a milestone in human history and responsible  for the eradication of important diseases in the world. The Expanded Programme on Immunization  (EPI), created by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the 1970s, with the support of UNICEF,  Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and others, brought vaccines that save lives of hundreds of millions of  people worldwide. Reaching this level of protection involves a major global effort to increase  access, accessibility and other challenges that encompass immunization. 

In regard to COVID-19, health experts from around the world met with help from WHO to identify  gaps and work together to accelerate and fund priority researches to stop this pandemic. Today  (22/01/21) there are a total of 237 development projects, featuring 173 vaccines in pre-clinical  development and 64 in clinical development. The studies are being collected through randomized  controlled clinical trials. A joint WHO-ICMRA statement address the need to obtain robust and  reliable data on dose efficacy and safety. 

Countries, however, are concerned that funding from governments will not be sufficient to purchase  vaccines, and also fear that manufacturers will not produce enough immunizers to serve the global  population. The published price of vaccines is between USD 3 to USD 37, this difference, therefore,  will be a big obstacle. COVAX, a global collaboration for speeding up the development,  manufacture and equitable distribution of new vaccines, has an indispensable role in the challenges  related to these matters, ensuring the fairness of the products. 

WHO SAFE has created a framework of values for global assistance, taking into account issues  such as guidelines on the prioritization of groups for vaccination, while supply is limited, and also  on the allocation of vaccines. This allocation has an important point, since vaccines are  thermolabile products, that is, sensitive to the action of temperature and require storage under  refrigeration, which is a fundamental factor to guarantee a safe product. 

The “infodemic” – an oversupply of information and the rapid dissemination of misleading or  manufactured news, images and videos, has led WHO to bring together global experts to discuss the  science of managing this false information. Even though the world is focused on the search for an  effective and safe vaccine, misstatements continues to be shared about immunization. Countries like  Germany, for instance, fear that the anti-vaccination movements will prevent many people from  being vaccinated. 

Finally, solidarity has become an important word in the midst of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic.  Countries have helped each other in the impacts caused on health, economy and social issues,  facing the same challenges around vaccination campaigns against COVID-19. In this way, it will be  extremely important to comply with the international vaccination plan aiming at efficiency in  combating the SARS-VOC-2 virus pandemic.

Reference: 

1. World Health Organization. World experts and funders set priorities for COVID-19 research.  Available from: <https://www.who.int/news/item/12-02-2020-world-experts-and-funders-set priorities-for-covid-19-research;. Access on: 22/jan/21 

2. World Health Organization. Draft landscape and tracker of COVID-19 candidate vaccines.  Available from: <https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/draft-landscape-of-covid-19- candidate-vaccines;. Access on: 22/jan/21 

3. World Health Organization.The vaccines success story gives us hope for the future. Available  from: <https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-vaccines-success-story-gives us-hope-for-the-future;. Access on: 22/jan/21 

4. World Health Organization. More than 150 countries engaged in COVID-19 vaccine global  access facility. Available from: <https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2020-more-than-150- countries-engaged-in-covid-19-vaccine-global-access-facility;. Access on: 22/jan/21 

5. World Health Organization. Immunizing the public against misinformation. Available from:  <https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/immunizing-the-public-against misinformation;. Access on: 22/jan/21 

6. World Health Organization. WHO-ICMRA joint statement on the need for improved global  regulatory alignment on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines.Available from: <https:// http://www.who.int/news/item/06-11-2020-who-icmra-joint-statement-on-the-need-for-improved global-regulatory-alignment-on-covid-19-medicines-and-vaccines;. Access on: 22/jan/21 

7. World Health Organization. WHO-ICMRA joint statement on the need for improved global  regulatory alignment on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines. Available from: <https:// http://www.who.int/news/item/16-09-2020-who-sage-values-framework-for-the-allocation-and prioritization-of-covid-19-vaccination;. Access on: 22/jan/21 

8. El País. As diferenças abismais entre as vacinas de Oxford, Pfizer e Moderna, a Coronavac e a  Sputnik V. <https://brasil.elpais.com/ciencia/2020-11-24/as-diferencas-abismais-entre-as vacinas-da-oxford-pfizer-moderna-a-coronavac-e-a-sputnik-v.html?ssm=whatsapp;. Access on:  22/jan/21

About the author

Guilherme Lopes Coelho is a fifth-year medical student at the Centro Universitário de Valença  (UNIFAA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is an active member and treasurer of the Plastic Surgery  League at UNIFAA. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Student  Associations (IFMSA). He was part of two works in the area of ophthalmology, approved and  presented at congresses with the themes: ‘Treatment of Macular Edema with Intravitreal Injection  of Triamcinolone in a Patient with Diagnosis of Girata Atrophy’ and ‘Central Retinal Artery  Occlusion After Orthopedic Surgery’.

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