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Coronavirus vaccine tracker, August 20: Australia to make vaccines free for its citizens

In some countries there is a relatively low level of confidence in the vaccines being developed, mainly because of the haste with which they are being produced.

By: Explained Desk | Pune |
August 20, 2020 7:40:24 am
A researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, at work on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. There are more than 160 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical or clinical trials in the world. (Tony Luong/The New York Times)

A day after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a Coronavirus vaccine deal with pharma major AstraZeneca and said all Australians will get the vaccinated for free, he went on to suggest that he would also like it to become mandatory for everyone in his country. Within hours, however, he was forced to backtrack and clarify his statement.

“I would expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make,” Morrison was reported as having said in a radio programme.

“We are talking about a pandemic that has destroyed the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world, and over 430 Australians. So, you know, we need the most extensive and comprehensive response to this to get Australia back to normal,” the Prime Minister said.

But within hours, he had to alter his position and clarify, in another radio programme, that all he meant to say was that he would like to “encourage” everyone to take the Coronavirus vaccine.

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“We can’t hold someone down and make them take it,” he said.

In some countries, there is a relatively low level of confidence in the vaccines being developed, mainly because of the haste with which they are being produced. Several opinion polls in the United States and Europe have shown that a large proportion of people were unsure about taking the vaccine when it becomes available.

Also read | Covid-19 vaccine tracker, August 21: Russia will test Sputnik-V on 40,000 people; J&J announces largest human trials

In the United States, Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease specialist and one of the most trusted voices on the current pandemic, was asked the same question, about the possibility of making a vaccine mandatory for everyone, and he said he did not think it would be made mandatory in the United States.

“I don’t think you will ever see mandating of a vaccine particularly for the general public. If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, then there is nothing you can do about that,” he said.

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Russia releases video of its vaccine being produced

Possibly to counter the growing scepticism regarding the Coronavirus vaccine that it has produced, Russia has released a video showing its vaccines being produced in a factory.

The 40-second video has been released by the Russian Health Ministry. Russia claims to have developed the world’s first vaccine for novel Coronavirus, but the global response has been rather cold. Several scientists and experts have expressed doubts over the safety and effectiveness of the Russian vaccine, mainly because it has been approved for use without undergoing all the tests that are considered necessary.

Hunt for Coronavirus vaccine: The story so far

  • More than 160 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical or clinical trials
  • 29 of them in clinical trials
  • Six in final stages, phase-III of human trials
  • At least eight candidate vaccines being developed in India. Two of these have entered phase -II trials after completing phase-I.

(As on August 13; source: WHO Coronavirus vaccine landscape of August 13, 2020)

Don’t miss from Explained | What is vaccine nationalism, how does it impact the fight against Covid-19

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