There’s a ray of hope the world could beat the coronavirus scourge very soon. It was born some three years even before COVID-19 was detected early this year.
It has become the pandemic that we are facing now.
But that faint ray of hope gives us a reason to cling on to the whole of mankind.
Its birth in 2017 came in Davos, a popular ski resort in the Swiss Alps, during the World Economic Forum (WEF) that was attended by the world’s most important political and business leaders.
It was an invitation-only event.
But other than the economy and business, the 2017 forum tackled a wide gamut of concerns that could affect our lives, including concerns about the environment and health.
Kofi Atta Annan, the Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from January 1997 until December 2006, led the foundation of the Global Health Initiative in 2002.
Its first mission was to engage businesses in public-private partnerships to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and health systems — the primary health issues of the day.
He didn’t know then that it was to become the seed to help sprout the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
It is a global initiative to fight epidemics that was called on 19 January in Davos.
The CEPI precipitated actions that would lead to the development and distribution of the anti-COVID-19 vaccines that the world now awaits.
The WEF also has a COVID-19 action platform that has over 1,500 organizations working together in response to the pandemic.
CEPI is in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) in coordinating donations from public, private, philanthropic and civil society organizations to finance independent research projects to develop vaccines against emerging infectious diseases.
Together, the WHO and CEPI convened the vaccines pillar of the ACT-Accelerator (Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, or the Global Collaboration to Accelerate the Development, Production and Equitable Access to New COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines) — a G20 initiative.
It aims to “speed up the search for an effective vaccine for all countries.
At the same time, it is supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities, and buying supply, ahead of time so that two billion doses can be fairly distributed by the end of 2021.”
The speed of development of an anti-COVID inoculation varies among some 100 pharmaceutical and research groups. But we are getting there.
Work to come up with the anti-coronavirus vaccine is also unprecedented.
It usually takes years before a vaccine is developed to fight or prevent diseases, but not for this one. There is a race to save lives against the dreaded virus.
We are reminded that with this fast-moving pandemic, no one is safe, unless everyone is safe.
Other than the available ways and means to avert the spread of the virus — like less human-to-human contact, the wearing of masks and shields, constant washing of hands and the use of alcohol, among others — immunization is the only way to address COVID-19, which could make the world a safe place to live in once again.
Immunization presently prevents two to three million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. Vaccines are available to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases.
COVID-19 is not far behind in claiming human lives.
The speed of development of a vaccine for other diseases, like HIV-AIDS, is not that encouraging, though.
But give it to the men and women of science. They are close to setting out the mass distribution of anti-COVID-19 vaccines by next month — hopefully — to make the coronavirus a preventable disease.
The leading pharmaceutical companies have announced great leaps in their studies.
Pfizer chairman and CEO Dr.
Albert Bourla on 9 November exclaimed: “Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.”
The CEPI, which provided early catalytic investment in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine program, also said: “The Moderna results are as good as we could have hoped for and really terrifically encouraging.”
Some one million Chinese have been injected with Sinopharm’s vaccine under an emergency use scheme three days ago, a signal that it is ready for mass production and distribution of the product once approved.
Russia is the other country to have used so-called vaccine candidates — products that are still undergoing clinical trials to test their efficacy and safety — to inoculate its citizens.
Two billion doses — not including handling facilities and cold storage — are needed by all countries on this planet by the end of 2021 to stop the daily count that has now claimed 1.34 million deaths out of the 55.6 million victims, as of Sunday morning.
But there’s hope.
In this fight, not one country is ahead.
Because the virus knows no race and boundaries, we all should come up with our contribution to help the world win this war.