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One billion hits from Covid: a jab of hope for humanity | India News

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PARIS: On December 8, 90-year-old British Margaret Keenan, resplendent in her Christmas t-shirt, received the western world’s first Covid vaccine: a ray of light at the end of the tunnel for humanity after a devastating year pandemic. .
Six months later, nearly a billion Covid hits, both the first and the second, have been managed globally, according to the AFP database.
The unprecedented inoculation campaign is seen as the global ticket out of the coronavirus disaster, despite concerns about rare side effects, supply concerns, and glaring inequality between rich and poor.
With new variants of Covid causing a worrying increase in cases and uncertainty about the effectiveness of vaccines against them, the planet is now rushing to inoculate as many people as possible before being overwhelmed by another wave of a pandemic that it has already killed three million people.
“A year ago I felt like a young man, now I’m an older man,” said Laszlo Cservak, a 75-year-old Hungarian, after his first hit near the Danube river.
“I miss horribly not going to the pool or the gym, and traveling, so I came here to break free and get my old life back,” Cservak ​​added, reflecting the Covid fatigue felt by billions around the world.
In the darkest days of the pandemic, the idea of ​​rapidly creating, manufacturing, and authorizing even an effective Covid vaccine seemed distant.
But the world’s scientists, with the help of billions in public funds, worked around the clock to develop several viable vaccines, the first to use cutting-edge mRNA technology that hacks human cells and effectively turns them into factories. of vaccine manufacturing.
“Normally, it takes five to ten years to produce a new vaccine,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament in February.
“We did it in 10 months. This is a great scientific success.”
With clinical trials demonstrating efficacy of up to 95 percent, attention turned to the logistical nightmare of producing, storing, delivering and administering the vaccine, in theory to everyone who wanted it on Earth.
Deployment was slow in many countries, but faced with a life-and-death race against time, some implemented creative logistics solutions, turning cathedrals, iconic sports stadiums and theme parks into emergency vaccination centers.
France turned a velodrome into a vaccine drome. Venice created the Vaporetto Vaccination. Britain, which was a heavy blow, deployed tens of thousands of vaccine volunteers, dubbed the “army of jabs.”
The world leaders of US President Joe Biden, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis rolled up their sleeves to shoot, though not always in front of the cameras, in an attempt to counter public skepticism.
Biden told the world that “there is nothing to worry about” when he was shot live on television.
The few countries that launched a vaccine quickly have seen cases and deaths drop, with a return to somewhat normal life.
In Israel, where more than half the population is fully vaccinated, cases dropped to around 13 per 100,000 people compared to around 650 in January. Deaths were reduced by a factor of 10.
British pubs have reopened their beer gardens, Israel stopped wearing outdoor masks, and theme parks and theaters have rebooted in the United States.
Nekia Griffin, a 46-year-old medical administrator and Harry Potter fan, told AFP that her trip to Universal Studios in California was her “first real outing” since last spring.
“Getting a piece of that magic is just indescribable. It’s so wonderful to be back.”
But it has been far from a simple process. The fight for vaccines has seen nasty political squabbles, with China and Russia accused of “vaccine diplomacy” by offering home blows to strategic allies.
Britain and the EU were embroiled in an unseemly post-Brexit dispute over access to vaccines and the bloc was criticized for a chaotic start to the vaccine launch.
“Bringing these vaccines into the arms of billions of people is now the most urgent challenge for the international community. This is, so to speak, the ‘new arms race’,” according to the Soufan Center, a research body.
And with World Health Organization officials emphasizing that “no one is safe until everyone is safe,” there has been outrage over the gap between the rich world and the poorest countries, a “shocking and expanding disparity.” according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. .
About half of the doses administered so far have been in high-income countries that represent 16 percent of the population. The 29 lowest-income nations have received 0.1 percent, according to an AFP tally.
Recently, very rare but occasionally fatal side effects, including blood clots, have made headlines, particularly affecting the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca.
Despite authorities emphasizing that the benefits far outweigh the risks, negative press threatens to influence vaccine acceptance, with a flood of misinformation on social media fueling the anti-vax campaign.
Some have resorted to bribing the reluctant: California-based Bolthouse Farms gave workers $ 500 to take the hit. A district in Beijing gave out egg boxes and free trips to popular tourist attractions as an incentive.
What does the future hold? Already controversial is ‘vaccine passports’, which are likely to be required in some form for international travel and entry to public events, despite activists lamenting data protection.
Vaccine tourism is also a growing trend: countries like Greece and Iceland are betting on an increase in already vaccinated tourists, while Serbia has welcomed thousands of “vaccine tourists” as national outlets.
Politicians and scientists emphasize that vaccination, combined with lockdowns and social distancing, is the only way out of the Covid crisis.
But poor countries face many years before their populations are vaccinated, and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has already warned that a third injection, possibly even an annual vaccine, may be necessary.
As WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward said when the first shots were aimed at the shoulders in December: “There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a bright light at the end, getting brighter and brighter, but it is a long tunnel. ”

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