COVID-19: Who will be the first ones to get vaccinated?
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc around the world, leaving everyone desperate for a vaccine - a much-needed shot that prevents contraction or at least mitigates the severe impact of the novel coronavirus. But, the question is, when an effective and safe vaccine is developed, approved, and manufactured, who will be the first ones to get it? Let's find out.
Over a dozen vaccines are moving through human trials
At the time of writing, as many as 16 COVID-19 candidate vaccines, relying on different platforms and technologies, are moving through different phases of clinical human trials. Out of these, 7 have been developed at Chinese institutes, 3 in the US, 2 in the UK, 2 in Germany, and 1 in Russia and South Korea each, respectively.
Candidates from US and UK seen as frontrunners
While most candidates are in Phase 1 or simultaneous Phase 1 and 2 of clinical trials, those from Moderna Therapeutics in the US and the University of Oxford in the UK are leading the race. Oxford's shot has already gone into the third and final stage of the trial in the UK and other countries, while the one from Moderna will start next month.
Availability by year-end is highly likely
If things go according to the plan (which they have, till now), both vaccines are likely to be tested/approved for distribution by year-end. The companies have already partnered with drugmakers to manufacture sufficient doses of their vaccines so that they could be immediately distributed post approvals. Moderna is working with Lonza while Oxford has partnered with Emergent, Serum Institute of India, Novasep, among others.
So, who will be the first to get vaccinated?
The first ones to get the vaccine, which has been tested and approved for emergency use, would most likely be the people of the country where it has been developed - meaning those in the US and the UK. Both countries have invested in their candidates (US has invested in Oxford's candidate too) for public distribution after necessary approvals.
What about India, then?
Though there is no vaccine candidate from India, the one from Oxford is likely to reach the country. AstraZeneca, Oxford's partner, has collaborated with the Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by doses, to manufacture/supply a billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to India and other low-and-middle-income countries. Additionally, groups like GAVI are also working to buy doses for developing nations.
No word on how vaccine doses would be distributed
Given that the world's population is over 7.8 billion and there will not be those many doses in the initial stages by early 2021, the countries are likely to prioritize the process of vaccination, which will be finalized at a later stage.