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Back to the future: How vaccines return the world to life without restrictions

By March, vaccination drives kicked off in more than 80 countries

MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. The coronavirus pandemic should come to an end as soon as humankind develops herd immunity to the infection, and mass vaccination should contribute to this, experts say.

The vaccine trials began in various countries in the summer of 2020 and since December the drugs have begun rolling into civilian circulation. By March, vaccination drives kicked off in more than 80 countries and the number of inoculated citizens more than doubled the total number of COVID-19 cases.

However, it’s still a long way to go before returning to life without quarantines and restrictions. According to the World Health Organization, only 10% of people have anti-bodies to coronavirus while the required level of herd immunity for ending the pandemic should be nearly 65%. Based on various evaluations, it could take between six months and several years to achieve it.

The process of developing and producing drugs against COVID-19 also laid bare a number of serious problems, which significantly slow down the vaccination pace. Besides, discussions continue on the possible introduction of immunity passports, which could be a condition for unhampered travel. It’s unclear whether this idea could be implemented around the world.

Vaccination statistics

According to TASS estimates, more than 320 mln people or over 4% of the planet’s population have taken at least one of two coronavirus vaccine doses while 118 mln have been diagnosed with the infection. However, the vaccination process in the world is mixed and 75% of those inoculated are citizens of eight countries: the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Turkey, Israel and Germany. The authorities of Israel, Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates have vaccinated more than half of their population.

The majority of shots were among the US citizens - nearly 95 mln with 29 mln registered cases. China comes in second, with 52.5 mln vaccinated citizens, and the UK is in the third place, with over 24 mln inoculated citizens (including the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and overseas territories), while the number of infected more than 80% lower.

In Russia, more than 5 mln people (3.4% of population) have passed the first stage of coronavirus vaccination, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova. Russia is ranked 13th in terms of the total number of those vaccinated. Russia’s COVID-19 case tally reached 4.35 mln.

Vaccines and policy

In most countries, vaccination is voluntary and free-of-charge for citizens. The key vaccines used in the world for immunizing citizens are Russia’s Sputnik V, shots by German-US company Pfizer-BioNTech, US company Moderna, British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca jointly with the University of Oxford, Covaxin developed in India by Bharat Biotech and Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm.

The effort to develop new vaccines continues in Russia, Germany, France, China, India, Vietnam, Iran, Brazil, Cuba and a number of other states.

Despite calls by the World Health Organization’s experts that countries prioritize health over politics, the situation still turned out to be rather politicized. In particular, this concerned Russia’s Sputnik V jab. In the Western media, it came under fire over its speedy registration. However, the situation drastically changed after The Lancet published the results of the Phase Three clinical trials of the Russian jab according to which it is one of the safest and most effective ones worldwide. The efficiency of the vaccine amounted to 91.6%, and among volunteers aged over 60 it came to 91.8%.

Thus, the interest in Russia’s vaccine sharply grew, including in European countries, and some of them started signing contracts on supplies.