COVID-19 Update | the Government Claims That Over 166.59 Crore Vaccine Doses Have Been Provided in India So Far.

According to the Union Health Ministry, India’s COVID-19 immunisation coverage has reached 166.59 crore people, with over 53 lakh vaccine doses distributed on Monday. The daily vaccine number is expected to rise as the last reports for the day are compiled late at night, it added.

Since the commencement of phase three of the vaccination push, 54,11,58,635 first doses have been given to those aged 18 to 44, and 40,58,44,481 have received the second dose in the same age range, according to Health Ministry data. 4,65,47,420 first doses and 3,35,552 second doses have been delivered to people aged 15 to 18. So far, 1,24,29,876 precautionary doses have been given to the indicated categories of recipients.

The vaccination programme as a measure to protect the country’s most vulnerable populations from COVID-19 is still being assessed and monitored at the highest level, according to the ministry.

India has approved Zydus Cadila’s First Covid-19 vaccine for children

  • Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D Covid-19 vaccine is the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine against the coronavirus.
  • Indian drug regulator DCGI approved Zydus Cadila’s three-dose COVID-19 DNA vaccine for emergency use in adults and children aged 12 years and above, bringing in the sixth vaccine authorized for use in the country.
  • India has now approved its first vaccine for children, a timely move amid warnings of an upcoming third wave in the country, which some experts have warned could be deadlier towards children. While the Union Health Ministry has refuted that the next wave of the pandemic would prove more serious to the ‘vulnerable and unvaccinated’ population comprising children, it has, at the same time, augmented pediatric services across the nation as a preventive measure.
  • The company said it plans to manufacture 100 million to 120 million doses of ZyCoV-D annually and has started to stockpile the vaccine.
  • The generic drug maker, listed as Cadila Healthcare Ltd, applied for the authorization of ZyCoV-D on July 1, based on an efficacy rate of 66.6% in a late-stage trial of over 28,000 volunteers nationwide.
  • “Interim results from Phase-III Clinical Trials, in over 28,000 volunteers, showed primary efficacy of 66.6 per cent for symptomatic RT-PCR positive cases,” said a government release, adding that this has been the largest vaccine trial so far in India for COVID-19.
  • “This vaccine had already exhibited robust immunogenicity and tolerability and safety profile in the adaptive Phase I/II clinical trials carried out earlier. Both the Phase I/II and Phase III clinical trials have been monitored by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB),” it said.
  • ZyCoV-D is the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine against the coronavirus. It uses a section of genetic material from the virus that gives instructions as either DNA or RNA to make the specific protein that the immune system recognizes and responds to.
  • Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology, is the second home-grown shot to get emergency authorization in India after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
  • The drug maker said in July its COVID-19 vaccine was effective against the new coronavirus mutants, especially the Delta variant, and that the shot is administered using a needle-free applicator as opposed to traditional syringes.
  • Earlier today, the Indian drug regulator’s subject expert committee had recommended emergency use approval for the vaccine. The committee had added that Zydus needs to submit additional data for the 2-dose regimen of its vaccine.
  • Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V vaccines are being given to only those above 18 years and unlike ZyCoV-D, which is three-dose, these are administered in two doses.
  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has said that ZyCoV-D is the world’s first DNA-based vaccine against the coronavirus and when injected produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and elicits an immune response, which plays a vital role in protection from the disease as well as viral clearance.
  • The vaccine had already exhibited robust immunogenicity and tolerability and safety profile in the adaptive phase one and two clinical trials. Both Phase one/two and Phase three clinical trials have been monitored by an independent data safety monitoring board, it added.
  • The Union government is expecting Zydus Cadila’s needle-free COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D to be available from the first week of October in India. 

India’s First Indigenous COVID-19 Vaccine – COVAXIN

A vaccine based on whole inactivated coronavirus has an efficacy rate of 77.8% against symptomatic COVID-19 infections, phase 3 trial data suggest.

Covaxin, also known as BBV152, was authorised for emergency 

COVAXIN, Indias indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).

The indigenous, inactivated vaccine is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) high containment facility.

The vaccine is developed using Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell derived platform technology. Inactivated vaccines do not replicate and are therefore unlikely to revert and cause pathological effects. They contain dead virus, incapable of infecting people but still able to instruct the immune system to mount a defensive reaction against an infection

Covaxin COVID-19 Vaccine To Be Available In First Quarter Of Next Year,  Says Bharat Biotech

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Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has demonstrated 77.8 per cent effectiveness against symptomatic Covid and 65.2 per cent protection against the new Delta variant.

The company on Saturday said it concluded the final analysis of Covaxin efficacy from Phase 3 trials.

The efficacy analysis demonstrates Covaxin to be 93.4 per cent effective against severe symptomatic Covid cases while safety analysis shows adverse events reported were similar to placebo, with 12 per cent of subjects experiencing commonly known side-effects and less than 0.5 per cent feeling serious adverse events.

The efficacy data demonstrates 63.6 per cent protection against asymptomatic Covid, a release from the city-based vaccine maker said.

Phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine was an event-driven analysis of 130 symptomatic Covid cases, reported at least two weeks after the second dose, conducted at 25 sites across India.

The whole virion inactivated vaccine against SARS-CoV2, was developed in partnership with Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology in Pune.

Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, said, “The successful safety and efficacy readouts of Covaxin as a result of conducting the largest ever Covid vaccine’s trials in India establishes the ability of India and developing world countries to focus towards innovation and novel product development. We are proud to state that Innovation from India will now be available to protect global populations.”    

POSITIVE RESULTS

The Phase 3 trial involved 25,800 participants in India aged 18 to 98. Of these, 2,433 were over 60 years old, and 4,500 had pre-existing medical conditions (co-morbidities) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or obesity.

The study found that Covaxin had an efficacy of 93.4% against severe COVID-19 disease, and an overall vaccine efficacy of 77.8% against symptomatic infections confirmed by PCR tests. Against asymptomatic COVID-19, the efficacy was 63.6%. The vaccine also conferred 65.2% protection against symptomatic infection with the Delta variant, at least two weeks after the second dose.

As a rough comparison, recent figures from Public Health Scotland suggested that at least two weeks after the second dose, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 79% effective against the Delta variant, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca was 60% effective. However, different trial methodologies make it impossible to directly compare the relative efficacies of the various vaccines.

The main side effects from Covaxin were pain at the injection site, followed by headache, fatigue and fever. No severe or life-threatening adverse events were reported.

The exorbitant of the unhurried COVID Vaccine instigate.

Government authorities ought to have emptied substantially more cash into delivering and appropriating COVID-19 immunizations to save more lives and salvage the economy quicker, as per new examination co-composed by 16 analysts including Harvard Business School teacher Scott Duke Kominers. Although government authorities found ways to speed antibody advancement last year, the United States and different nations might have paid to develop a fabricating framework and shore up the production network expected to create immunizations at higher limits. That additional speculation might have saved billions or even trillions of dollars in worth, Kominers and his co-creators revealed in Market Design to Accelerate COVID-19 Vaccine Supply in the March 12 issue of Science.

The benefit of having the option to deliver antibodies at scale the moment they clear preliminaries is very high in a pandemic,says Kominers, the MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration at HBS. You are losing many billions in crude monetary movement every month—and that is not in any event, representing the wide range of various types of misfortune the pandemic has caused. So you can place a great deal of cash into building plants ahead of time, just to have ones prepared to create the immunization that works.

Indeed, even as immunization endeavors acquire force all throughout the planet, hundreds keep on dieing every day. The pandemic, which shrank the worldwide economy by 4% in 2020, has additionally driven in excess of 119 million individuals into outrageous neediness, as per the World Bank. Furthermore, in the United States, the Federal Drug Administration this week instructed states to stop the utilization regarding the Johnson and Johnson antibody after six ladies fostered an uncommon blood-coagulating jumble, raising new worries about complete immunization supply.

Kominers spent the early months of the pandemic expounding on commercial center plan strategies that could offer help—for instance, by utilizing conveyance commercial centers to carry food to the old or by appropriating hand sanitizer all the more impartially. Kominers joined Accelerating Health Technologies—a gathering of scholastics investigating approaches to speed COVID-19 inoculation—to dive into the financial matters of the infection. The gathering noted in the paper that numerous nations attempted to increase antibody improvement and creation in the course of the last year. The US, specifically, dispatched Operation Warp Speed, which put resources into promising antibody competitors and resolved to purchase a huge number of portions of effective immunizations, giving an ensured market to the shots.

Government authorities likewise may have stressed they were betting a lot on antibodies that probably won’t work out. Moreover, on the off chance that you construct a creation limit far ahead of time, you may wind up not utilizing some of this on the grounds that an immunization turns out not to work, he says. The typical sense is to delay until you know which antibody works and afterward increase creation. Yet, that wasn’t the right nature here. Likewise, governments may have been careful about putting citizen cash toward building foundations for private enterprises—regardless of whether they recovered the interest as diminished immunization costs. In any case, once more, on account of COVID-19, the worth of these speculations would have far exceeded the possible expenses.

VACCINE PHOBIA

When we were born, we were vaccinated for many diseases. Have you wondered why babies are vaccinated and how it works? Babies are very fragile and have a very weak or immature immune system and are thus at the risk of becoming sick. A vaccine is a substance that stimulates the production of antibodies and provides immunity to one or more diseases. A vaccine contains an agent that resembles the disease-causing microbe which is either weakened or killed and is being injected to the living beings. When the living body identifies a similar or related microbes in future it destroys the microorganism. The vaccines have been proven to be useful in shielding us from various hazardous health issues. Every year they prevent more than 3 million childhood deaths worldwide from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles, to name a few. Though vaccines have caused some level of worry due to its side effects there was also some and trust attached along with it.

In the current situation in India, the nation is fighting bravely together against the second wave of coronavirus. After much of struggle, many vaccines are invented such as Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V etc. These are considered as a torch in abstract darkness. However it didn’t last long because of the fear of its side effects, the unpleasant happenings, events and news. People are like cat on the wall unable to choose between extremes-one is to stay without guard and increase the risk of exposure to coronavirus and the other, to vaccinate themselves and tremble due to the fear of its side effects which might even be fatal. Of course! Every human body has its own defects and is never identical to the other. The suitability of vaccine also depends on the body conditions. Many people fear that they might fall sick after taking the vaccine. Mostly in remote areas with less awareness and more fear have expressed that they are healthy and strongly believe that they would not get sick even if they are affected by coronavirus and are confident about the immune system.

Even we ourselves must have heard people in our neighbouring areas dying immediately after taking either one shot or both shots of vaccine. Some of us must have also heard people getting really sick after the first shot of vaccine. This creates a lot of chaos because people started losing confidence in the vaccine because they believe that getting infected or getting vaccinated, both can be baleful. I’ve heard many people talking about the vaccine that it is not suitable for all age groups and administering it to the old people triggers new health problems which weren’t visible before. I have also heard many saying that the vaccine is also not suitable for the children as it causes serious health issues when they become adults. But apart from whatever we hear or see, the vaccines are lifesavers and consists of a lot of positives and benefits though it may have some drawbacks too. The vaccines have gone through a lot of processes and tests before being given to the public. The vaccine might not be a perfect solution but still let us hope it paves way for a better and healthier future.

Relevant links: https://www.psycom.net/covid19-vaccine-hesitancy-mental-health https://womensenews.org/2021/04/the-covid-19-vaccine-to-fear-or-not-to-fear/

TALKING ABOUT COVID VACCINATION

As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, life as we know it has changed in profound ways. There have been over 140 million incidents and over 3 million deaths worldwide to date. To combat this crisis, scientists from all over the world came together in a once-in-a-lifetime effort. As a result of this global research effort, a number of vaccines have been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)/Listing (EUL). In the United States, the introduction of three vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen promises to put an end to what has been a particularly bad year. As of April 14th, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) has granted EUL to four vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, SK BIO AstraZeneca, Janssen (J&J), and Serum Institute of India, with several more awaiting investigation, including Moderna (approval decision pending end of April). At least one country has approved a total of 14 vaccines.

OUR TIMELY RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC WAS INFLUENCED BY ANIMAL RESEARCH

Animal research is more important than ever before, both in fundamental research, such as understanding immune system control, and applied research, where that expertise is applied to the production of cures and other therapeutic strategies. The timescales from bench to bedside are often long in Animal Research, making it difficult to understand the immediate human value of such science. Consider the fact that in the United States, we were able to manufacture three vaccines with an EUA for COVID-19 in less than a year. How was it possible to pull off such a feat? Such rapid progress was possible because of Animal Research into coronaviruses over the last decade, which included Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), as well as decades of prior research into mRNA vaccines, as we wrote at the start of the pandemic.

Vaccines (like all other medications) are generally tested in animals before going through clinical (human) trials to ensure their safety and effectiveness. However, due to the urgency of the COVID-19 hazard, safety and efficacy testing for some of the 110 candidate vaccines and treatments produced (e.g., Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine) was accelerated, and Phase 1 clinical trials began—where the smallest number of human subjects is usually enrolled. That isn’t to suggest that those candidates’ protection and effectiveness weren’t tested in animal models until going into clinical trials. Instead of testing safety and effectiveness prior to clinical trials, animals were tested concurrently with human trials.

India to begin COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 and frontline, healthcare workers to get priority.

India to begin COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16, frontline, healthcare workers to get priority

     The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India will commence on January 16, 2021. The decision of starting the largest vaccination drive was taken in a meeting on January 9 during which PM Modi also reviewed the status of COVID-19 in India.

On 16th January, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19. Starting that day, India’s nation-wide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis. 

Prime Minister also reviewed the preparedness of UTs and states for vaccination against the deadly disease. After the detailed review during the meeting, the decision was taken that in the view of upcoming festivals including Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Magh Bihu, Pongal, etc., the vaccination drive will start from January 16.

As per the release by PMO, priority will be given to the frontline, healthcare workers who are estimated to be around three crores. They will be followed by those who are above 50 years and under 50 population groups with any form of co-morbidities. Their number is around 27 crores.

During the meeting, PM Modi was briefed about the centre’s preparedness status of the drive-in collaboration with UTs and states for the rollout of the vaccine. He was also apprised of the government’s CO-WIN Vaccine delivery management system.

While reviewing the vaccination drive status, PM Modi was informed of the three phases of dry run by the government having been conducted all over the country.

• As per the release, the vaccination drive has been underpinned by the principles of participation by people (jan bhagidari), the Universal Immunization Program, and utilizing the experience of elections.

• The drive will not compromise the existing healthcare services, especially primary healthcare and national programmes. It will be underpinned by no compromise on regulatory and scientific norms and smooth and orderly implementation driven by technology.

• A crucial pillar of the vaccination drive will be comprised of the vaccine administrators and vaccinations. During the meeting, their training process was also detailed out.

• Around 2,360 participants were trained during the national-level training of trainers. It included cold chain officers, immunization officers, development partners, and IEC officials.

• For the drive, more than 2 lakh vaccinators, 61,000 programme managers, and 3.7 lakh team members have been trained. They are trained as part of training at district, state, and block levels.

• The unique digital platform will be providing real-time information on vaccine stocks, the vaccine’s storage temperature, and the tracking of beneficiaries of the vaccine.

• The platform will also be assisting the program managers at all levels for pre-registered beneficiaries. There will also be assistance for their verification and for the generation of the digital certificates on the successful completion of the vaccine schedule.

• On the platform, more than 79 lakh beneficiaries have already registered.

The National regulator granted the emergency use authorization for two vaccines in India- COVAXIN, and Covishield. Both the vaccines have established immunogenicity and safety during the clinical trials.

Vague strategies lead the race for COVID vaccine

Vaccines are dummies that work by tricking your immune system into thinking that it’s being attacked by a virus. The immune system then churns out antibodies that are honed to that virus. That way, if someone is exposed to that virus in the future, the body can quickly squash it out before it makes them sick. Triggering such immune response takes two main components: a bit of the virus so the body knows what it’s looking for and some kind of irritant to stir the immune system into action against that viral bit. If someone just put purified protein under your skin, nothing would happen. You have to get the immune system kicked up that’s where irritants come into play. Some basic approaches scientists are throwing at the virus are:

  • GENE-BASED VACCINES- Gene-based vaccines are the much-hyped underdog in the race to create a coronavirus vaccine. Most of the vaccine candidates that grabbed headlines or sent the stock market soaring are gene-based. Gene-based vaccines instead of directly delivering bits of the virus to the immune system for target practice, give the body tools to make them on its own. The vaccines are made up of pieces of genetic material, either mRNA or DNA, that encode the instructions for making the protein which when enters cells, read the instructions and churn out copies of the protein for the immune system to rally against. These types of vaccines are relatively easy for companies to make once they know the genetic sequence they’re targeting But despite their simplicity and decades of work, gene-based viruses are still largely experimental, at least for people. Moderna and Pfizer have gene based vaccine.
  • INACTIVATED VIRUS- Scientists take a virus and kill it with heat or radiation thereby rendering it harmless, but still recognizable by the immune system. A handful of Chinese companies are developing coronavirus vaccines using this method. One company, Sinovac, showed that its vaccine could protect monkeys from COVID-19. Human trials are ongoing. Because these types of vaccines have been around for decades, therefore scientists understand them well. Because these vaccines contain the whole (but non-replicating) virus, they’re good irritants for the immune system. Unlike gene-based vaccines, though, inactivated virus vaccines are hard to make. Manufacturers have experience with them, but they have to grow and then zap massive amounts of virus. Therefore it’s a slow process.
  • ADENOVIRUS VECTOR VACCINES- A whole, live vaccine is one of the best ways to create long-lasting immunity. That’s the strategy used to make vaccines for the measles and the chickenpox. They’re made from live but heavily weakened versions of the viruses. The viruses are so weak that they don’t make you sick, but they still make your body think it’s infected and set off the immune system. But it takes a long time to alter a virus so that it becomes weak and safe enough to be used as a vaccine, therefore to speed things up, vaccine developers aren’t even attempting to do that with the entire coronavirus. Instead, some teams are inserting sections of the coronavirus gene into weakened, live versions of other viruses. These viruses are called adenoviruses, Because this vaccine is based on a weakened, but a living virus, the immune system mounts a strong response against it. Even though live virus vaccines are regularly used, the adenovirus platforms are still experimental. Also, some people might have seen the adenovirus before so the vaccine wouldn’t work for them. University of Oxford is working on Adenovirus vector.
  • PROTEIN SUBUNIT VACCINES- Protein subunit vaccines directly deliver the specific bit of the virus scientists want people to develop antibodies against (rather than the gene for the protein). For the coronavirus, in most cases, that’s the spike protein. These vaccines contain copies of the spike protein and a bit of something to stimulate the immune system. Scientists are familiar with this approach, and it’s worked well for other diseases. Because these vaccines only use a piece of a virus, they sometimes aren’t able to push the body to generate a strong enough immune response, even with a good irritant built-in. Therefore people often need multiple shots to build up enough immunity to the disease which is a challenge during this pandemic. Because creating enough vaccines to give each person one-shot is already a challenge.

There’s a long history in vaccinology of trying multiple approaches to the same end goal because no one knows which strategy or which vaccine candidate will work best. You can’t speed that the process of testing vaccines. Because tests have to be conducted on a large group of people and researchers have to wait to see if someone actually develops immunity to disease after they’re given a trial vaccine They also have to watch for any safety concerns, either short-term side effects or long term. Speeding up the authorization process of a vaccine is a dangerous task because there are no guinea pigs to experiment on. It is a gamble with too much on stake. Rather we should cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Mumbai and pune to help test oxford’s covid vaccine

Coronavirus Vaccine updates: AstraZeneca-Oxford University's COVID ...

Maharastra the 2nd largest and 3rd most populated state of India reported it’s first corona case on 9th march 2020 in Pune . Slowly maharastra went on to become the hotspot for covid-19 and claims one third of the total corona cases in India. Also the state has the highest number of deaths with a fatality rate of 4.3%. On today’s date Mumbai has the most number of confirmed cases where as Pune has the most number of active cases.

Both the cities Mumbai and Pune comes under red zone area and are still considered as hotspot for covid-19. But irrespective of this situation these two cities will contribute towards the trail of vaccine.

Pune based serum institute of India partnered with Oxford to manufacture the vaccine developed by Oxford university in large volumes. The institute will start vaccine trail on 5k people in pune and Mumbai by august end. The company’s chief executive Adar poonawalla said the company is putting 200 million dollars at risk by manufacturing 300 million doses before the company gets the permission the launch the vaccine.

It is said that the vaccine produced by the Oxford university is safe. Preliminary results have shown that it causes no harm to human being and induces immune reaction. The university itself announced that it shows satisfactory progress and it can be the vaccine for corona virus.

The university has tied up with the serum institute to supply the vaccine to 60 countries including India which has a total population of 3 billion also they expect the vaccine to get ready by the year end which comes out to be positive relief for the indians.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

The initial trial data for the COVID-19 vaccine that has been developed in a joint collaboration between Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The data has been widely awaited as the world looks forward to some good news on the front of a vaccine that could shield people from the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has already infected over 14 million people worldwide and killed over 6 lakh.

The potential vaccine is already in large-scale Phase III human trials to assess whether it can protect against COVID-19, but its developers have yet to report Phase I results which would show whether it is safe and whether or not it induces an immune response. The developers of the vaccine said this month they were encouraged by the immune response they had seen in trials so far and were expecting to publish Phase 1 data by the end of July.

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How does the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate work?

When someone is infected with the Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2), the reason it spreads in the body easily is because of the spikes on its surface. These spikes, known as the ‘spike protein’, allow the virus to penetrate cells and, thereafter, multiply. The vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, which belongs to a category called non-replicating viral vector vaccines, tries to build the body’s immunity against this spike protein. The idea is to create antibodies to fight this spiked surface so that the virus does not even have the chance to penetrate the cells. The vaccine uses a different virus — in this case, a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that infects chimpanzees — to carry just the code to make the spike protein, like a Trojan horse. The adenovirus, genetically modified so that it cannot replicate in humans, will enter the cell and release the code to make only the spike protein. The body’s immune system is expected to recognize the spike protein as a potentially harmful foreign substance and starts building antibodies against it. Once immunity is built, the antibodies will attack the real virus if it tries to infect the body.

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Since the Covid-19 vaccine has been developed by a United Kingdom-funded university, UK will have intellectual property rights. Other countries such as India will need to enter into commercial deals or understanding via foundations such as Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). AstraZeneca also entered a deal with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India to supply one billion doses for low-and-middle-Income countries, with the first 400 million nicely before the end of 2020. It is not yet clear how many doses India will be able to land at first since the rollout of the vaccine will be subject to considerations that are commercial as well as that of equity. The World Health Organization’s chief scientist has described the Oxford vaccine as the leading candidate in a global race to halt the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people. More than 100 vaccines are being developed and tested around the world to try to stop the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 600,000 people and ravaged the global economy.