Opinions

A COVID-19 Vaccine for Christmas?

A COVID-19 vaccine is perceived as the silver bullet for many as societies and economies trudge through the severe and long-term impacts of the pandemic. Following a number of weeks of uncertainty, there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel.

In a recent interview, virologist Chris Barbara stated that the initial delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine is expected in December, providing that the late phase trials are successful. The vaccine would first be administered to those who are vulnerable and also frontlines, prior distribution to the whole community.

This is indeed welcome news, following around six months since Malta recorded its first case. Today, we have exceeded two thousand cases and recorded fifteen deaths, so a vaccine is indeed the need of the hour.

This statement by the virologist comes a few weeks after the Health Minister Chris Fearne said that Malta will be one of the first countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. A total of three hundred and thirty thousand doses have been allocated for this initial batch.

Although a vaccine may indeed become available in December, widespread immunisation is not to be expected before mid-2021. Considering the death toll globally, which is slowly nearing the million-mark, one can understand why such a vaccine is being given top priority.

Although the vaccine being prepared seems to be running on a high-speed schedule, there are some snags which need to be weeded out. Recently, it was announced that the Oxford University vaccine trials have been paused to investigate a case where a participant who was inoculated as part of the trials developed an inflammation in the spinal cord. In this regard, the case will be reviewed independently and once it is confirmed that this ailment is not related to the vaccine, trials may resume.

Amidst this less positive news, a number of sceptics have argued that this may be due to the speed and restricted timelines in which this project is being undertaken. A statement by the organisation highlighted that pauses during trials are normal and this is not the first time that the project has been paused. The reason for such pauses is to err on the side of caution and ensure optimal safety standards.  

At this moment in time, all eyes are on the project and the outcome of the independent review in relation to this case. Should a positive conclusion be made in the coming weeks and the trials allowed to resume, we may be in time to get the COVID-19 vaccine in line with the planned schedule.

Do you think that we will have our COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas? Would you be eager to take it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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