Vaccines All Around: How Countries Are Coping

Finally here, the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived on the shores of many countries and is being distributed to health care workers.
Wednesday 16 December 2020
British health authorities warn those with allergies away from the vaccine for now. Photo: Frank Augstein/AFP

On Monday the United States started its vaccination program. The vaccine has come at one of the darkest points of the pandemic as the nation’s death toll edged towards 300,000.

The US has suffered the highest death toll in the world of more than 299,000, and the largest number of cases, at 16.2 million – including more than 1.5 million new cases in just the past week.

Brave New York nurse Sandra Lindsay was the first person in America to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. She got the shot live on television, six days after Britain launched the West’s vaccine campaign against Covid-19.


Lindsey sitting for her vaccine shot, she said it felt like getting any other vaccine. Photo: Mark Lennihan/AFP


It took fleets of trucks and planes from courier services FedEx and UPS to carry the precious cargo across the country. Some of the vehicles were under armed guards as they travelled to all 50 states delivering the vital vaccine to healthcare workers and nursing-home residents who were first in line.

An initial 2.9 million doses are set to be delivered by Wednesday, with officials saying 20 million Americans could receive the two-shot regimen by year-end, and 100 million by March.

Even with this bright spot a number of countries in Europe, have had to announce new measures after an explosion of cases. Health experts are still struggling against vaccine scepticism, lockdown fatigue and uneven adherence to safety rules.


Delivery trucks rolled out, some with armed security to follow them. Photo: Andrej Ivanov/AFP


European Clamp

Germany announced on Monday that they would be having another lockdown, it hasn’t been very long since their last, but it’s necessary as the biggest holiday time for the nation is just around the corner.

Saxony state, wherein some areas incidence rates have hit 500 per 100,000 people, has shuttered shops and schools. Italy is debating on similar measures to curb a possible outbreak over the coming weeks.


Angela Merkel talked with Germany state premiers about the current lockdown restrictions. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/AFP


At the same time, the Netherlands prepared to enter its strictest lockdown since the pandemic began, Britain announced new restrictions on London, and Turkey said it would go into a four-day lockdown over the New Year holidays.

From 15 December onwards, the people of France face a new 8:00 pm-6:00 am curfew. However, they will no longer need to fill out forms justifying their reason for leaving home.


Hope in a tiny little glass bottle, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP



It is predicted that by the end of the year 20 million Americans might receive the two-shot regime and that by March it will be 100 million. But most people are still getting daily doses of scepticism and the vaccine is not immune to that.

Experts face a battle to convince enough Americans to take it to make it effective in a country where the anti-vaccine movement is strong. With celebrities like Robert DeNiro and Rob Schneider loudly proclaiming the supposed side-effects of vaccines the anti-vaxxers have grown strong in number, that 100 million might look a lot less come March.

“My biggest concern is the level of hesitancy in the country. I really hope we are going to be able to change that,” Moncef Slaoui, head of the government’s vaccine rollout program Operation Warp Speed, told CBS.


Canadians have also gotten the vaccines to supply to their health care workers. Photo: Carlos Osorio/AFP


Aside from the usual anti-vaxxing cries, there are others who are feeling unsure about the vaccine more due to the speed it has come at. Operation Warp Speed has made some uneasy, worrying that rushing through trial phases could do more harm than good.

Other experts counter this worry by highlighting all the usual obstacles in creating a vaccine during non-COVID19 times. Funding, government red tape and manpower are all major factors that slow down the process to years but with the pandemic, none of these are an issue.


Here’s a clear view of the logistics chain for the vaccine. Photo: AFP


US Company Moderna proudly proclaimed that their trials showed the vaccine to be 94.5% effective in a control group of 30,000 people. However, like anything else we take into our bodies, there is always a chance of an allergic reaction.

British Health Officials have warned those who have a history of significant allergic reactions to steer clear of the Pfizer vaccine for the time being.


Be Cautious

Even with this new vaccine, times are still rough. Everyone still needs to be mindful of all the safety precautions we have taken over the past year and adhere to the current preventative measures. Just because a vaccine has been rolled out it’s not an instant cure-all.


While many are excited about this development there are those that remain sceptical. Photo: AFP


In Malaysia, trials are currently undergoing phase three for our own vaccine. The government has made plans to increase the purchase of the vaccine to cover up to 60-70% of Malaysians. With greater coverage, there is a better chance of creating herd immunity, though it remains to be seen if many Malaysians will take the vaccine as there are anti-vaxxers here too.

Source: AFP Relax News