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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Covid vaccine ~ challenges in storage, transport, administration and insurance !!

Corona, the global pandemic has already caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and disrupted the lives of billions more. As well as reducing the tragic loss of life and helping to get the pandemic under control, introduction of a vaccine will prevent the loss of billions to the global economy every month. Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences --- the immune system--- to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target.  If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.   Immunization currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. There are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, and work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease.

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease.  A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future. Vaccines can be prophylactic (to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or "wild" pathogen), or therapeutic (to fight a disease that has already occurred, such as cancer).  The administration of vaccines is called vaccination. Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases.

The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Edward Jenner (who both developed the concept of vaccines and created the first vaccine) to denote cowpox. He used the phrase in 1798 for the long title of his Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against smallpox

Hopefully the vaccines should be invented and hit the market in a few more months, after which mankind may be able to fight and win over the Covid.  That would also require mass production, millions of vaccines, the manufacture, pricing, handling, transportation, warehousing, distribution – are all going to be big challenges.  This would be new business for manufacturers, pharma giants, distributors, logistics handlers and Insurers too.  A couple of months ago, came the news that Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance market, plans to begin offering coverage of coronavirus vaccine deliveries. Parsyl Inc., a U.S. insurance technology company, has teamed up with Lloyd’s to provide policies covering the storage and shipping of potential Covid-19 vaccines and other medicines, according to a Lloyd’s statement.  Vaccine delivery can be expensive to insure because underwriters are concerned about the risk of medicines being spoiled by excessive heat or cold. There are possible losses due to thefts and attacks too.  The new business, known as Syndicate 1796, was developed by Parsyl together with insurers Ascot Group and a unit of AXA SA, broker McGill & Partners and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an international public health group that focuses on delivering new vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

It is further reported that  Pharmaceutical companies and health authorities will store COVID-19 vaccines in secret locations to prevent theft as vaccine makers plan to deploy GPS software to track distribution and plot fake shipments to confuse criminals.  Pfizer Inc. is among the vaccine makers that will have GPS software on shipments, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company is also planning to carry out fake shipments in dummy trucks in a bid to confuse any potential thieves.  The safeguards are being put in place amid concerns that the highly-awaited vaccines could be stolen when being distributed.  Health authorities fear criminal rings will try and steal the vaccine when it is being given to prioritized groups like health care workers and before it is made publicly available.

Moderna, another maker, says it has enhanced security as the leading candidates inch closer to having a vaccine.   'You are going to have people that will want to have access to the vaccine earlier,' said Juan Andres, who is Moderna's chief of technical operations.  Glass maker Corning Inc., which was given federal funding earlier this year to boost manufacturing of vials to store COVID-19 vaccines, will fit its vials with black-light verification to stamp out potential fake treatments.  There are also a number of other safeguards being considered across the country to protect the vaccine. Manufactures in some states plan to ship the vaccine straight to hospitals and other approved sites to prevent road stops. Empty dummy trucks and GPS locators are also an option.  Some hospitals are also increasing security within their pharmacies. Philadelphia's Jefferson Health hospital system has already committed to installing security cameras, cages and keypad authorizations for freezer rooms where the vaccine will be stored.

It comes as a Food and Drug Administration meeting on COVID-19 vaccines that is scheduled for Thursday will discuss criteria for allowing emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca could provide early analyses of late-stage trials of their experimental vaccines as early as this month or the next.  The FDA earlier this month told coronavirus vaccine developers it wants at least two months of safety data before authorizing emergency use, a requirement that likely pushes any U.S. vaccine availability past the Nov. 3 presidential election. The meeting, which is open to the public for comments, is another example of steps health regulators are taking to assuage public distrust related to coronavirus vaccines, that are being developed at unprecedented speed.

There are no approved vaccines for the coronavirus, except two in Russia that are yet to finish Phase 3 clinical testing.

                                     Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro overruled his own health minister today, rejecting the announced purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being tested in Sao Paulo state. Health minister Eduardo Pazuello announced the purchase on Tuesday alongside Sao Paulos Gov. Joo Doria, a foe of Bolsonaros whose state government is participating in the vaccines development. The cost of the acquisition was estimated at 2 billion Brazilian reals ($360 million).

The Brazilian people will not be anyones guinea pig, Bolsonaro said on his social media channels, adding that the shot made by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac is yet to finish its testing phase which is true of all potential vaccines. My decision is to not purchase such a vaccine. It is common practice for governments to purchase doses of promising vaccines, to build a stockpile in case they are proven effective. That investment is usually not refundable if the shot fails. Brazil counts more than 153,000 deaths by COVID-19, second only to the United States. The South American nation also confirmed 5.2 million cases of the disease, the third biggest in the world, behind the U.S. and India.

Bolsonaro and Doria have had an adversarial relationship since the start of the pandemic, with each taking opposite stances regarding stay-at-home recommendations and restrictions on activity. The governor of Brazils most populous state heeded the counsel of public health experts and adopted such measures, which the president blasted, arguing the economic fallout could kill more than the disease.

With regards – S  Sampathkumar



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