All our Clinics are contacted every day about the future availability of Covid-19 vaccinations and to a lesser extent about their safety and I will try in this newsletter to set out the current situation with vaccines.
It is important to understand that the Covid-19 virus is both very sophisticated and also very successful. This is partly due to its ability to mutate, as do all viruses, but for Covid-19 these mutations take on a more infective form and its ability to infect people asymptomatically who may then transmit the virus. So, whilst vaccines are developed this is a constantly changing battlefield and may change again in the future.
We have three main vaccines developed in the western world – Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Astra Zeneca-Oxford. They have all been rigourously tested, although that testing has been fast tracked to save thousands of lives. That testing has been done by the Medicine Agencies in UK, Americas and the EU, and represents a transparent and scientifically robust procedure. All the vaccines produce higher immunity than natural Covid-19 infections and have been shown to be effective against current variants, although Moderna has recently published that its vaccine may have less efficacy against one variant of Covid-19, although still giving good protection. In general, all vaccines will currently require 2 doses. Israel which has given 6% of its population 2 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines has reported no serious infections amongst this group.
Whilst these vaccines, and perhaps others to follow from smaller producers in the Western World, have been rigourously and transparently tested such standards are not so apparent in Chinese and Russian vaccines amongst others. It has always been the policy of AMC to source European/American medications and vaccines and we continue with that policy. Despite a large amount of negative propaganda against vaccination I and my colleagues are firmly impressed that vaccination is the correct and safe method to prevent infection.
The supply of vaccines is more difficult and is not really about storage temperatures, although the Pfizer vaccine is a little more challenging in this respect it should not limit its effective use. Many countries contracted with large suppliers even before vaccines were actually produced and therefore the Americas, Australasia, the UK and the EU should have adequate supplies. However other countries have been slower, and it now seems that supplies to our countries will be far behind that of Europe who even today have debated limiting its export of vaccines due to the poor supply of the Astra Zeneca vaccine and discussions have begun on extending the period between vaccines from 30 to 42 days. Chinese and Russian vaccines will be available amongst others but are they safe and will they work? Furthermore, it appears that restriction free travel in many countries will be granted to those who have been vaccinated – but probably only with EU/USA approved vaccines.
It is also likely that supplies within countries may not be regulated by Ministries of Health and that some vaccines may be available on the open market, with questions around there probity and storage.
American Medical Centers is in regular contact with our Ministries of Health in obtaining information about supplies which of course we will immediately pass on to you our patients.