From the moment coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, China towards the end of 2019, the rumours started doing the rounds over the cause of the pandemic.
Is the virus man-made or is it a natural occurrence that is cyclical? Remember that such pandemics have happened at regular intervals in the past.
The most recent one was the Spanish flu in the 1920s that killed millions of people. The rumours on whether there is a sinister motive behind the spread of the virus and eventually the plans to vaccinate the human population also quickly started spreading as fast as the virus itself.
But do we have a choice on whether to vaccinate or not? Those opposing vaccination claim that herd immunity shall eventually bring pandemics under control and therefore there is no need to vaccinate.
But the rate of morbidity, particularly in temperate countries in the northern hemisphere, shows that so far, herd immunity is not taking hold.
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This week alone, the death toll in the United States peaked at about 4,000 people daily. The rationale that vaccines have been manipulated by people who intend to control the world population does not hold water because if that were true, then anyone with a sinister motive has a host of other avenues to execute such a sinister motive. Therefore, the only option available to the human race is to find the fastest ways of inoculating mankind and to do it urgently so that lives can be saved.
But we also need to understand what is going on in the effort to develop vaccines. The biggest challenge has been whether countries such as those on the African continent can access the vaccines as quickly as possible.
According to the New York Times vaccine tracker dated November 9, 2020, New York-based Pfizer and the German company BioNTech made history by presenting preliminary data indicating that the coronavirus vaccines they developed were more than 90 per cent effective, giving hope to the world. But there are more than 60 other vaccines on trial across the globe.
Many countries have already started administering locally produced vaccines to their people. China, India and Russia have also shown the upper hand in their efforts to produce vaccines.
This fact alone will take away the fears that vaccines are being produced in bad faith to harm people around the world, because no government will deliberately cause harm to its people unless their leaders have no iota humanity in them.
Vaccines being produced in the United States and Europe might not be accessible in a country like Kenya and many other African ones.
That is because the vaccines being developed by Moderna and Pfizer require cold chain technology for transportation and storage. Access to these vaccines for those in remote and far-flung areas might, therefore, become a challenge.
There is a global race to produce the vaccines. Many countries are putting efforts to give their citizens access to vaccines as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the usual divide is visible again. Many of the poorer countries might be left behind in access to vaccines.
There is a lot of vaccine nationalism at play since many developed countries think about their citizens first.
But as noted by European Union President Ursula Von Der Leyen, “No one is safe until all of us are safe. Wherever we live, whatever we have”. She added: “Vaccine nationalism puts lives at risk. Vaccine cooperation saves lives”.
World Bank President David Malpass also reiterated that the global ecosystem will only revert to normalcy if people can interact actively. “Economies, families and livelihoods cannot fully recover until all people can work, socialise, travel and live their lives with hope and confidence. Broad rapid and affordable access to Covid vaccines will be at the core.”
The biggest nightmare in access to the Covid-19 vaccines in addition to pricing by greedy pharmaceutical companies that might charge exorbitant amounts, is the issue of logistics.
According to the New York Times, it is estimated that an equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747s will be required to move the vaccines around the world to vaccinate the 7.8 billion people on our planet. This will become the immediate and most important challenge.
Mr Guleid is the CEO, Frontier Counties Development Council. [email protected]