Saturday, July 24

Vaccines and vaccinations

Have we beaten the pandemic? We don’t know yet, but everything indicates that we are on the right track. Good science, good economics, and good politics have lined up for once, like stars in the sky, for this story to have a happy ending.

Indeed, in the first place, science, basic and applied, has made it possible to have several vaccines in record time and with an innovative scientific foundation, which we still cannot believe. It is not magic, it is hard-wrought science, “blow by blow, verse by verse”, with sweat and wit, taking advantage of the poet’s words. We are witnessing a scientific revolution in the field of vaccines that we hope will bring us other joys, such as against tuberculosis (around 1.5 million deaths each year) or malaria (500,000 deaths each year, 90% in Africa). A pending challenge that science at the service of the pandemic can help to achieve. Investing in science is the best way to deal with current and future threats to people’s health.

Second, pharmaceutical companies have made it possible for the fruit of research and innovation, financed in most cases by public funds, to produce millions and millions of doses, and under the appropriate quality and safety conditions so that the efficacy demonstrated in clinical trials -whose logistics they have assumed-, always in ideal conditions, almost in the laboratory, could be just as effective in the usual conditions in which people live. Releasing patents, in certain circumstances, is an option in the medium and long term, but in the short term it is the rich countries that must provide the necessary funds so that safe and quality vaccines reach the middle-income countries in sufficient quantities. and down.

But all this, really necessary, would not have been enough if we had not had public institutions, with the capacity to buy these vaccines, thanks to the income generated by taxes, and thus make them available for free to thousands and millions of people. In addition, the Spanish and other European states have been able to borrow with the support of the European Central Bank. Something that not all states can do. Possibly, the existence of fragile states in the world, some failed, is the weakest point in the fight against the pandemic. Something that does not solve neither the release of patents nor the financing of huge quantities of vaccines. But it is where we play the most so that what has been achieved in countries like ours is definitive. Strengthening international institutions such as the World Health Organization is another necessary step to face the future in better conditions.

Finally, in this analysis of the determinants that are making this happy ending possible, we must mention the incredible logistical effort that the National Health System is making. The star component, together with the education and social security system, of the welfare state, which exists, let us recall it again, thanks to taxes and their proper administration.

If, in the first phase of the pandemic, it was the hospitals that endured the onslaught of the pandemic in an exemplary manner, together with the policies of restrictions on mobility and the adoption of non-pharmacological preventive measures; In this final phase, let’s hope, primary care is giving the heart, as we can all see when we are summoned to get vaccinated, and when the most desired moment arrives, everything happens with a normality that surprises by its efficiency. Having robust sanitary systems is a condition sine qua non so that vaccines materialize in vaccinations.

Society exists and, through the proper coordination of its scientific, economic and political institutions, it can and knows how to organize itself to defeat the pandemic. A lesson that we must not forget when this pandemic is definitely over.

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