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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Taking a shot

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Famed composer Andrew Lloyd Weber volunteered to take part in the Oxford University trial for a vaccine against the coronavirus. He received his shot on Thursday.

He then said on Twitter: “I’ll do anything to get theaters large and small open again and actors and musicians back to work.”

The Oxford trial is just one of more than 165 vaccines being developed around the world. According to the New York Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker, some 135 are on pre-clinical phase, meaning they are not yet in human trials. Instead, they are given to animals such as mice or monkeys to see if they can produce an immune response.

Twenty are on Phase 1, where the vaccines are being tested for safety and dosage. Here, they are given to a small number of people to test safety and dosage as well as to confirm that it stimulates the immune system.

There are 11 vaccines on Phase 2, where the vaccines are in expanded safety trials. This means that the vaccine is given to hundreds of people split into groups, such as children and the elderly, to see if the vaccine acts differently in them. These trials further test the vaccine’s safety and ability to stimulate the immune system, according to the NYT.

There are eight on Phase 3, where the vaccines are in large-scale efficacy tests. They are given to thousands of people. Scientists look at how many become infected, compared with volunteers who received a placebo. These trials can determine if the vaccine protects against the coronavirus. Phase 3 trials are large enough to reveal evidence of relatively rare side effects that might be missed in earlier studies.

Meanwhile, there are two vaccines that have been approved for early or limited use. “Regulators in each country review the trial results and decide whether to approve the vaccine or not. During a pandemic, a vaccine may receive emergency use authorization before getting formal approval. Once a vaccine is licensed, researchers continue to monitor people who receive it to make sure it’s safe and effective,” the Times said. The two vaccines approved for limited/ early use come from China and Russia.

Here at home, it is apparent that our leaders imagine the COVID-19 tide turning only upon the distribution of vaccines. No less than the President has expressed his faith that the Chinese and the Russians, have promised us, their Filipino friends, an early crack at the vaccines. Mr. Duterte in fact said he would willingly subject himself to a trial dose.

Developments such are these are encouraging, if we are to be assured that all trials and approvals comply with global standards, and that countries do not declare themselves winner of a race for the sake of the distinction of being the first and besting all others.

This is not a race, after all, against each other, but against a common enemy that continues to be fatal to people and crippling to businesses and economies. Meanwhile, may those who lead us be enlightened that the efforts can and should be parallel. There are many things that can be done, and done extremely well as other countries have shown, to contain the virus and save lives even before vaccines are approved, manufactured in large scale, and distributed.

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