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Countries Begin Distributing COVID-19 Vaccine
After over a year of a pandemic that has disrupted normal life for millions around the globe and put a grim atmosphere in the air, a light at the end of the tunnel has arrived, as vaccines for COVID-19 have started being distributed around the world.
It’s a historic accomplishment for the medical field as vaccines for the novel coronavirus, which was classified as a pandemic in early 2020, were produced and distributed in less than a year. Usually, vaccines require several years before being authorized for use.
Development started in early 2020, possible thanks to unprecedented collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and national governments around the world.
Individual countries also did what they could to help get a vaccine to the world as quickly as possible, especially as the situation deteriorated. China and Great Britain pushed for researchers to develop a vaccine, while the United States introduced Operation Warp Speed in May of 2020, which aimed to get multiple vaccine candidates into testing as soon as possible.
While this presented many challenges — chief among them, developing a safe and effective vaccine in record time — researchers developed them, and began clinical trials soon after. Different countries had drastically different schedules. China, for example, started using a vaccine on their military forces in early June 2020, while Russia approved a domestic vaccine in the fall, becoming the first country to approve such a solution for the general public.
Other countries, such as the United States and Great Britain, approved the use of vaccines in December of 2020, offering the first glimpse of hope for people approaching the end of what many believed was a terrible year. In those countries and many more, people could start getting vaccinated as soon as January, with priority given to frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, and those with at-risk conditions. Generally, vaccinations have required that a person get two shots over the period of a month.
In Japan, the process to approve vaccines unfolded slower, owing to the desire by the government to hold trials in Japan. While vaccination started later in the country than in other places, it did begin in the middle of February, starting with healthcare workers.
The government expects anyone over the age of 16 to get the vaccine from June 2021.
One of the bigger worries regarding COVID-19 vaccination is there will be an imbalance between wealthy nations and developing countries, with the latter unable to procure orders of vaccines. The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access, or COVAX, was established to prevent this, with organizations such as the World Health Organization coming together to make sure all people can have equal access to the vaccine.
While a vaccine doesn’t eradicate worries about COVID-19, it offers a big step forward towards life after the virus.
Key Words and Expressions
- vaccine — a substance given to people to prevent them from getting a disease caused by a virus or a bacterium
- distribute — to give something out to a group of people
- be authorized for use — to be given official permission for use
- clinical trial — a research study performed in people to test a new treatment
- approve the use of — officially allow the use of something
- priority — something that is being regarded as more important than others
- frontline healthcare worker — a person who provides medical services and works in situations where risk of getting a disease is high
- vaccination — treatment with a vaccine to help the immune system develop
- imbalance — lack of balance, proportion or equalness
- have equal access to — have an equal opportunity to obtain something
Reading Comprehension Test
- Why are COVID-19 vaccines an accomplishment for the medical field?
a. They were produced cheaper than other vaccines.
b. They are the most effective vaccines ever made.
c. They did not require any research.
d. They were produced and approved in record time.
- In certain countries, who didn’t get priority for the vaccine?
a. Frontline healthcare workers.
c. The elderly.
d. At-risk individuals.
- Which country first approved a vaccine for the general public?
c. The United States.
- Why did Japan take longer to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine?
- What is the purpose of COVAX?