Wednesday, 20 January, 2021
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OPINION

Vaccine Priority To Vulnerable People



Birendra Madai

When some drug giants like Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford University announced that the coronavirus vaccines developed by them have high success rates, the entire world has now become quite optimistic. In the wake of an unprecedented success in the development of the much-needed vaccines, Nepal government has made a decision to amend laws in order to bring the disruptive drug in the country.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari issued the Drug (Third Amendment) Ordinance, 2077 last week. The cabinet had recommended the amendment to the law as per Article 114 (1) of the constitution. This amendment seeks to smoothen the import of vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal as soon as it rolls out in the global market.
The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has sent the proposal to the cabinet in advance to avoid legal complications (such as the ones faced during the launch of antiviral medicine Remdesivir). The government, however, is yet to select the company that will supply the vaccine.
Given the latest achievements in the making of inoculation, it is praiseworthy that the Council of Ministers has brought the needful ordinance. In a recent press release, the US drug maker Pfizer disclosed that its vaccine was almost 95 per cent effective. This is good news as the COVID-19 cases have kept increasing around the world.
Pfizer developed the vaccine with its partner the German company BioNTech. Some 44,000 volunteers had taken part in the trails conducted by these companies. Both the companies are planning to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorisation soon.
Once the FDA authorises the two-dose vaccine, Pfizer aims to have up to 50 million doses available by the end of this year and up to 1.3 billion by the end of the next year. The German scientists Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, who founded BioNTech back in 2008, are now in the limelight globally for their groundbreaking effort in developing a successful coronavirus vaccine.
First doses of the vaccine are likely to be used for frontline workers like doctors and other healthcare workers who are at high risk of exposure, and the older people. When the vaccine is authorised, focus will be at once shifted to how it will be distributed as the vaccine, produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, must be stored at a temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vaccines from other institutions like Oxford University and companies such as Moderna have raised the hope of people around the globe. With these silver linings coming amidst the continuing pandemic, specialists argue that the global scenario will return back to normal by next winter.
Once the medicine hits the Nepali market, the government should make sure that the people at higher risk of catching the virus should in first priority of immunisation.
With a majority of population falling below the poverty line, it will be insightful if the government makes free deliveries to poor and needy ones. As the nation itself is reeling from a financial crisis, those people who are capable of bearing the cost of the vaccination can be charged accordingly. 

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