Everybody’s on their toes these days eagerly awaiting the promised vaccines that would hopefully offer some shield and protection against the COVID-19 virus and subsequently give rise to the so-called herd immunity.
As far as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX is concerned it was able to finally deliver 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India in Ghana’s capital of Accra, one of the 184 countries listed as recipients for the free vaccines.
This is actually good news because it validates the effort of the global community through the WHO and its partners for an equitable distribution of the available vaccines to the less developed parts of the world.
Here in the Philippines it was reported recently that President Rodrigo Duterte is already growing impatient at the delays in the arrival of vaccines from Western countries and even China. But whatever anxiety the President is feeling towards the non-arrival of the vaccines has more to do probably with the current economic situation than with the prevailing health conditions of the citizenry. In fact local government units (LGUs) all across the country who are experiencing economic hardships are already clamoring for lesser restrictions in order to resuscitate their faltering local economies. Of course this is true all around the world. But here in the country it is already a given that if we continue to impose stringent regulations in the movement of people and goods, the economy will suffer greatly which in turn will directly affect the very lives of the people and imperil the development of the nation in the near future.
Thus the campaign to achieve herd immunity at the soonest possible time and as a means to relax restrictions and strict health protocols in the hope of propelling the economy forward.
Unfortunately at this time we can only wait and hope that eventually, perhaps before the end of this month or at the first quarter of next month, the first batch of vaccines – whether purchased or given freely – will start arriving so that the government can actually start vaccinating people, those that would want it anyway.
Now going back to Ghana, which is among 92 low-and middle-income countries listed as recipients for the vaccines under COVAX, it has a population of 30 million and has already recorded 81,245 coronavirus cases and 584 deaths in the pandemic. If you might be tempted to ask why only 600,000 doses were given to the said West African nation, the WHO provided an explanation that countries will receive doses in proportion to their population size. To obtain a better picture for this go to this link ( https://www.devex.com/news/covax-releases-country-by-country-vaccine-distribution-figures-99058) and click the word ”released” immediately after the “A country-by-country forecast was” in the second paragraph of the report, to access the COVAX FACILITY: INTERIM DISTRIBUTION FORECAST – latest as of February 3, 2021.
There you will find that the Philippines stands to receive 5,500,800 doses from Astrazenica (indicative distribution) and 117,000 doses from Pfizer-Biontech (exceptional allocation). Since we are now 106.7 million in population (according to the internet), those are the vaccine doses we expect to receive from the COVAX facility. While we are grateful that they will be given for free, still the arrival of the said vaccines is a matter that has now become part of our waiting game.
On a related matter, the government must step up its effort in uncovering schemes by unscrupulous people or groups of people who bring into the country COVID-19 vaccines without the approval of concerned offices and agencies of the government, since the efficacy of these vaccines might be tested by those inoculated by allowing themselves to disregard health protocols and which might only increase the risk of infection by those they come into contact with, instead of proving they are already virus resistant. It is well to note that being immune from the virus does not necessarily mean that you cannot become a carrier of the virus. Just saying.