The global desire to produce and deploy a safe and effective vaccine to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection and the morbidity and mortality subsequent to COVID-19 is unprecedented. The unparalleled speed of research development and access to funding is perhaps equally unique in the history of therapeutic achievement. This article, the third in a series of dedicated to exploring the origins and developments of SARS-CoV-2 within the context of the strategies of infection prevention and control, investigates the theatre behind the extraordinary efforts underpinning the research for therapeutic interventions to halt the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce has stated that the exit strategy depends on a vaccine that is effective in reducing mortality, improving population health by reducing serious disease and protecting the NHS and social care system. This article introduces the major COVID-19 vaccine contenders and considers the challenges and opportunities of an effective global vaccination strategy.
On 12 March 2020, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared a global pandemic of COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel coronavirus first identified in December 2019; patients in WuHan Province, China were presenting with atypical pneumonia and respiratory distress. The impetus of making such a statement reflected the emerging graphic of the international spread of the disease. Region by region, city by city, health departments around the world were reporting an escalating number of people presenting with acute respiratory infections and experiencing mounting pressure as they struggled to respond to the demands of this new public health threat.
The strategic effect of announcing a pandemic was designed to achieve more than stimulate individual countries to accelerate their efforts; the aim was to strike the right balance between protecting health, preventing economic and social disruption and respecting human rights (WHO, 2020). Learning from previous epidemics and sharing of resources, experience and developments in therapeutic possibilities to slow the virus became a critical element in the global crisis.
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