Vaccine: Expert warns against ‘millions of doses going to waste’
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Following the news that G7 leaders have ‘pledged’ to provide poorer nations with “1 billion vaccines”, Fergus Drake, Chief executive of Crown Agents, a not-for-profit international development country told Sky news of his concerns of the “pledges”. He warned that the bold promises must be thought through or risk wasting millions of coronavirus vaccines through poor orgnisation. He explained how such a bold pledge could swamp the infrastructure systems of poorer countries meaning “it will be like taking a drink of water through a fire hose.”
Mr Drake said: “These recent vaccines pledges could be the G7’s biggest success since its inception in 1975 or its biggest missed opportunity
“What we don’t want to see is millions of vaccines going to waste because of the infrastructure and the planning on the ground over the next critical few months.
“It is really important to know that a vaccine is only half the story.”
He expanded on the issues, highlighting: “Every vaccine needs the right syringe, every syringe needs a fully trained community health worker to administer it .”
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He went on to say: “Those health workers need PPE and above all there needs to be a willing arm at the end of that chain to receive a vaccine.
“There are four key issues: the first is these vaccines need to arrive quickly and they need to have a long shelf life and also they can’t arrive all at once.
“Because if there is millions that arrive in a country like South Sudan then the infrastructure simply can’t cope.”
And in a stern warning to the bold pledges made by G7 leaders, he stressed: “It will be like taking a drink of water through a fire hose.”
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Mr Drake added the importance of the ‘cold chain infrastructure’ of fridges which the Pfzier vaccine requires as it needs to be stored between -70 and -80 degrees celsius.
He added how the final link in the chain is health workers who need to have training but also the medical equipment to carry out the jabs for Pfizer – which has its own syringe.
The international development head also explained there is a “window of opportunity” if the funding is correcty arranged.
Mr Drake said: “I like to use the analogy of a Formula 1 pitstop: when you have got everyone trained, a car arrives, it can be refuelled and all four tyres changed in under 3-seconds – that is what we need to happen.”
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He concluded how only a collaborative, linked up global response will be able to fulfill the pledges made by G7 leaders this weekend in Cornwall.
Mr Drake said getting the world jabbed in ’18 months’ will be an “absolutely unprecedented feat”.
He added that he is “optimistic with the pledges that happen”
But warned: “The pledges aren’t enough.”
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