WITH thousands of deaths now routinely linked to the COVID-19 pandemic each day, obtaining a safe and reliable vaccine has been an urgent priority. Thanks to the ingenuity of science, the long-awaited vaccine is finally here.
Governments all over the world are already making plans to acquire doses of the milestone vaccine and make it available for their teeming populations.
With vaccination already begun in the UK, many countries are following suit. Certainly, Nigeria cannot afford to be left out. Although the confirmed rates of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria are comparatively low, that should not be a reason for the government to be complacent in obtaining the vaccine for Nigerians.
The promising results from clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines from two US drug makers, Pfizer (with German partner BioNTech) and Moderna Therapeutic Inc., has brought succour and rays of hope to millions at risk.
Both vaccines rely on revolutionary technology that utilises an innovative mRNA (messenger RNA) code to “teach” the body how to eliminate the novel coronavirus and fight symptoms if a person is to ever encounter the virus.
This is the first time an mRNA vaccine has been officially approved for large-scale public consumption.
The Food and Drug Administration, FDA, has authorised that the vaccine be given to people at risk aged 16 and over. The vaccine delivers sufficient immune response in the elderly thereby protecting them against COVID-19 infection and related complications.
Reputed to possess over 95 percent protection with more than 90 percent efficacy rate, and with little or no unusual side-effects, the Pfizer vaccine is the first to be officially approved for use against the novel coronavirus that has infected almost 72 million people and claimed 1.6 million lives worldwide.
Scientists say it is the fastest vaccine to have ever secured approval, taking a total of 10 months from development to roll-out.
Indeed, the COVID-19 vaccine is a gift of science. Historically, vaccination has greatly reduced the burden of infectious diseases. Smallpox was eradicated through vaccinations, and polio is on its way out. Thanks to vaccines, a number of infectious diseases such as measles and yellow fever have been put in check.
For decades, vaccines have worked. Today, vaccines have excellent safety records, and most vaccine scares have turned out to be no more than false alarms and misguided conspiracy theories.
With this approval and the pioneering roll-out of the vaccine in the UK, the end to the COVID-19 pandemic may be on the horizon.
Vaccination programmes are cornerstones of primary healthcare services. Currently, the world has at least one COVID-19 vaccine that is safe and efficacious.
The crucial step now is to break through the vaccine anxiety. While its fast development and typical anxiety over vaccines may cause uneasiness within some circles, the fact that vaccines do work cannot be waved aside.