The Oxford vaccine: all the concerns.
The scientific community is not the only one to have risen doubts about the forthcoming distribution of the vaccine that promises to protect 70% of the population from Covid-19.
In March 2020, the scientists at Oxford University found the Spike protein , the basis of the SarsCovid-19 vaccine, but they did not have the machinery to start trials on human sample groups. Oxford’s scientists therefore decided start a collaboration with IRBM, an Italian biomedical company, because scientists there had experience in studying that kind of virus and because the University was already in a active partnership with Pietro Di Lorenzo, the president of IRBM.
The Oxford vaccine was at the forefront of the vaccine race, proving to have a 90% effectiveness rate in phase three of the clinical trials and to be cheaper than all the others and to be easily available all over the world. In addition to only costs 2.80 €, in comparison to 16.50 € of the Pfizer vaccine and 21.00 € of the Moderna vaccine, the Oxford vaccine had also the advantage it could be transported and preserved for up to six months since it does not have to be stored at a extremely low temperatures as Moderns’s and Pzifer’s do.
However, some doubts are still on the mind of the scientific community. Indeed the scientists behind the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine have run two different types of trials on two different groups on two sample-groups. The smaller group has received a dose followed by half a dose after a month interval. This is the group that proved the 90% effectiveness of the vaccine. However, the larger group, who was given two full doses of the vaccine at a month interval, proved to have just 62% of protection. Therefore, even though trials recorded 90% of effectiveness, the average of effectiveness is 70%. In addition the AstraZeneca and Oxford have not been as transparent as the other biomedical companies about their datas, particularly about the age-group of their samples.The CEO of AstraZeneca declared that a last set of clinical trials is required even though it is going to be a much shorter one. In the mean time, the UK, who ordered more of 350 millions doses of vaccine including 100 million of the AstraZeneca — Oxford’s one, has started distributing the Pfizer one earlier this week. Concerns have then arising due to allergic reaction the Pfizer vaccine may cause.
Furthermore, there are numerous social concerns related to the equal distribution of vaccines such as the AstraZeneca — Oxford’s one to world population. Many have argued that SarsCovid-19 vaccines could enhance inequality among populations around the globe, where the poorest countries especially in the Global South, will be forced to compete against richer Western-European territories. The Global North through its historical privileged status most likely will be the first to receive the vaccine for its population whereas the Southern hemisphere the last.
In addition to this, rising concerns relate to the draconian power implications of the vaccine. Individuals all around the globe started questioning the role of governments in imposing the vaccine to population, in enabling freedom of choice and violating basic human rights such as individual’s own liberty when it comes to the personal decision of to be or not be vaccined against SarsCovid-19.
Written by Tecla Zanin, edited by Maria Vittoria Iaquinta and Rebecca Gnignati.