The race to come up with a vaccine for covid-19 is on. According to the Conversation, an online platform for academicians around the world,
“The first new vaccine to enter human trials for COVID-19 was developed by the US firm Moderna Therapeutics. About 35 other companies and academic institutions are also working on COVID-19 vaccines. Most are currently in “pre-clinical (animal) testing”, including one being developed by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford.”
Stages of vaccine development.
- Basic understanding of the virus: This is where you unravel the nature of the virus, develop a test for it and map out possible treatment options
- Vaccine candidates: Here you isolate a live virus and weaken it to develop a vaccine or mimick the structure to develop one.
- Pre-clinical testing: that is testing the vaccine on certain categories of animals
- Clinical trials – testing the vaccine on humans
- Regulatory approvals
6.Production for general use.
Given the coordinated efforts going on, it won’t be long before a successful vaccine emerges.
Nevertheless, every vaccine has a story, a story of a troubled pregnancy and birth. It could even be worse. Having just read the book,
“The Virus Panic: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear” by Seth Mnookin”, I must say that every vaccine goes through a tornado stage. The stage where public health experts go head to head with renegade experts, anti vaccine activists and pawns. This stage could be nasty and drawn out, sometimes lasting for years.
The tornado stage is usually triggered by renegade experts who make reckless statements that often turn things on their heads and have anti vaccine activists and pawns running like ants from a burning wood.
The recent statements made by two French doctors to the effect that clinical or human trials for covid-19 vaccine should be done in Africa is a bell weather for a tornado stage.
Suddenly, there is a gale of protests in the African continent as if it is in the domain of the two French doctors to make the call on how a covid-19 vaccine or vaccines will emerge. Come to think of it, clinical trials are already on in the United States and in Europe as stated above. These trials are done on human beings over there who are either paid to be guinea pigs or who volunteer themselves on behalf of humanity. So, head or tail, somebody must take the clinical testing bullet. Beyond that, doctors are already using the plasma from covid-19 survivors to treat infected people.
Now, instead of Africa dwelling on how to join their counterparts to develop an appropriate response to the deadly virus and develop capacity for future viruses, we are getting caught up in a whirl wind of distractions and meaningless debates.
Already, an African American who is opposed to any kind of vaccines is digging up past conspiracies to put “The Guinea Pig Africa” story into some historical perspective. That gentlemam has offered sufficient baits to social media pawns to begin a movement of misinformation about the current situation.
I hear some some Moroccan activist-lawyers are warming up to sue the French commentators and the institutions they represent. Nothing will come out of it. However, such response muddle the waters to create confusion in the minds of the public and make it look like a team of virologists can just jump into any country in Africa and begin clinical testing on people indiscriminately.
Bad stuff happens in the world of medicine as far as clinical trials are concerned. We remember Pfizer and the botched clinical trials in Kano years ago. However, that tragedy also underscored the fact that nothing can happen in any country without the tacit approval from government or negligence of government.
Africa needs to find a way to get into the main stream of science and technology and get off this wolf, wolf and victims’ syndrome.