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Countries around the world are racing to find a vaccine for COVID-19. Here’s what you have to know about it today.

Sputnik-V

You may have heard that Russia has developed a COVID-19 vaccine. Last 11 August 2020, Russian politician Vladimir Putin announced on television that the vaccine developed by Gamaleya Institute, named Sputnik-V, was “the world’s first”. However, American politicians were quick to express doubt over the safety and efficacy of such, stating that “this is not a race to be first”.

Despite this, Putin had assured the global community of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. He also mentioned that one of his daughters had already received doses of Sputnik-V and “feels well”. While there seem to be no reports of serious side effects for volunteers in earlier trials, some, however, had reported experiencing a mild fever afterwards. 

As of today, Sputnik-V has yet to undergo the crucial Phase 3 trials, which involves registering doses to a larger group (around 30,000 to 40,000 people) of a certain population. However, this coming October, a thousand Filipinos are set to undergo clinical trials for Sputnik-V. Should it be proven effective, the government aims to register Sputnik-V for use by April 2021. 

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The Frontrunners

There are currently 140 vaccines undergoing clinical trials all over the world. Twenty-one vaccines are undergoing Phase 1, thirteen in Phase 2, and eight in Phase 3. Two are already approved for early or limited use, one of which is China’s CanSino vaccine, which is available to the military. 

Some of the frontrunners include the Moderna vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine (in collaboration with BioNTech and Fosun Pharma), the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Some of those vaccines are already in Phase 3 trials. Reports have also surfaced that India, a country actively involved in the Oxford Phase 3 trials, could get their hands on the vaccine by December. The Moderna vaccine, also in its Phase 3 trials, is facing a bit of a roadblock, however. Only 5,000 volunteers out of the required 40,000 have so far agreed to be tested on, impinging on the vaccine’s progress. 

Populations around the globe are hoping to receive a vaccine as early as next year; although some could receive it by the end of 2020. 

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Silver Bullet? 

News of the COVID-19 vaccine brings much hope to people around the world. As of writing, the disease has currently infected nearly 23 million people worldwide and has also killed over seven hundred thousand. Currently, the Philippines is the hardest-hit country in Southeast Asia, overtaking Indonesia earlier this month. 

Yet, despite government optimism, the World Health Organisation has urged leaders around the world not to wait for a vaccine and instead, improve their virus response. The United Nations has also said that there may never be a “silver bullet” for COVID-19 as it impacts more than just health, but economies and political structures as well. They proposed a wide range of solutions that include enhancing political commitment and leadership, improving localised response strategies, and putting science, data, and experience at the forefront of solutions. They acknowledged that while curbing the virus is a difficult task, “when leaders step up and work intensely with their populations”, the coronavirus pandemic can still be “brought under control” to save both lives and livelihoods. 

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