Wed. Jun 3rd, 2020

A million dollar question: when will Corona vaccine be produced?

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RK Sinha 

Corona virus has brought tears, tears in every eye. Most of the people across the world are staying at home to avoid contact with this deadly virus. An increasing number of people are folding hands in prayer for some drug or vaccine for treatment of the disease.No one is spared.Every religion, caste, color and sex has come under its grip.Every one wants to get back to the old life, meet others and move freely.All of them want office to to be opened and normalcy to return. Markets are closed. There is no business activity. Every section is affected. Every one wants relief. And all have one question in mind: when will a vaccine be produced?

It is not to suggest that researchers and scientistis across the world are not doing their jobs.They are equally worried and trying hard to find a cure. Recently, there were reports that Chadigarh PGI has completed research and human trials are underway.The vaccine was to be tried on a total of 40 persons. If the trials are successful and approved by authorities concerned, it would become a great achievement of Indian scientists . We are waiting for the final word on the subject. It would not be too much to say that India has a pool of talented engineers and scientists and they have knowledge and capability to do something special. We have already achieved some big successes in science and technology fields.

However, it should be a matter of concern that all labs in the country are not doing their jobs properly. The Central Drug Research Institute at Lucknow, for example, has not come out with any new medicine so far.What research they are doing and why have they not come out with anything so far after so many years of research? The Central Pharmaceutical Research Institute is one of the largest institutes established in the country. The institute is one of the 39 institutes working under the Indian Council of Science and Industry Research (CSIR). It was formally inaugurated in 1951. Has anyone ever asked the scientists of this laboratory how many important medicines they have produced?

We had the opportunity. But, our pharmaceutical companies have not exploited the situation much. Most of them have taken other lessons from the US and Europe– lessons like how to make profit and live an easy life. How many drugs or medicines they have produced ?. Look at China it has now claimed that it has found a cure for Corona.We are still struggling. You will also be surprised to know that no notable allopathic medicine has been developed in India so far.

However, to our good luck, research on Corona vaccine is in progress at dozens of places in the world. In last 100 years whenever there was a crisis in the world only American scientists were at the forefront. That is to say that only they were playing an important role in dealing with the crisis. Now day and night dozens of countries including America are working to find a vaccine to treat Covid-19. Experts say that American scientists have successfully conducted human trials on the corona vaccine and that the vaccine is expected to come out soon. Preparations are also underway to carry out clinical trials in Australia.  

The World Health Organization believes that commercial production of the corona vaccine may take as long as one year and a half years. However, on what basis it has made this calculation is not known so far to any one either in this country or outside.  

Meanwhile, an American company, Moderna, is learnt to have conducted trials and if its third trial is also successful we will defeat Corona soon. US President Donald Trump hopes on the basis of work being done by Moderna that the corona vaccine may be available by the end of this year. Scientists in many laboratories in Europe are also looking for a vaccine that will work against corona.There are reports that some laboratories in Europe have also made considerable progress towards vaccine production.They have begun human trials and the result has been good so far. So the vaccine against Corona is likely to come out soon. But from which labs in America or Europe will it come? If one of our research laboratories had done it, that would have made the country proud. But in the light of our past records, it may be too much to hope.

The role of Indian media has been as disappointing. Some of the newspapers and television channels had initially created a panic. They had used words like ‘Corona Ka Kahar’ and ‘Corona Ka Khoram’. In this light it is believed that even if the lockdown is removed there will no peace.Strangely, when a corona positive case is found in a hospital, the entire hospital is sealed.Why should the entire hospital be sealed? What will we gain from that? There will be problems for all others? In America, Britain, France or Germany no hospital is closed due to coronary disease. May be it is because there is no “babudom” in those countries. Deepak Natarajan, a cardiologist in Rajdhani hospital, has rightly asked: Is it right to create panic among people going to the hospital? This way the number of heart attack,

Finally, one has to keep this mind that before a corona vaccine is found we will have to wear masks and gloves if we have go out. Social distancing will have to be maintained at all costs. Unfortunately, even educated people living in big cities are not paying much attention and are going out without masks. I was told by a top Delhi Police officer recently that even during the lockdown some people were found buying vegetables without wearing masks. How to make them understand the gravity of the situation? .Perhaps, there is no way. Only God can save such people .

There is clear now that Tablighi Jamaat and migrant labourers have been the super spreader of the visus. Governments at the center and states are doing everything possible to contain the disease. But they cannot do much if the people violate the lockdown or jump quarantine. We have to cooperate with them and strictly follow the guidelines till vaccines are marketed.Let us hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. 

 (The writer is a senior editor, columnist and former MP)