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Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020 19:45 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020 14:12 [IST]

In our hands now

After having spent nearly 8 months amidst lockdowns and uncertainty waiting for a  vaccine and then along comes two within seven days just as we celebrate Diwali and prayed for a better year ahead. A new vaccine that protects against Covid-19 is nearly 95% effective, early data from US company Moderna shows. The results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, and add to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.

Moderna’s experimental vaccine was 94.5 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data in a preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial, another sign that a fast-paced hunt by scientists and pharmaceutical companies is paying off with potent new tools that could help control a worsening pandemic.

It’s the second American drugmaker to report results that have blown away expectations. Both companies used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines. The highly positive readout comes just a week after a similar shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was found to be more than 90% effective in an interim analysis. Both shots rely on a technology called messenger RNA that has never been used to build an approved vaccine. Soon, millions of people around the world could be spared from illness by the breakthroughs.

The results arrive at a moment when the pandemic’s grip is tightening. The U.S. surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases Sunday. Deaths and hospitalizations are also rising across the globe, including India. Europe has also seen cases soar as much of the world braces for what is expected to be a dire winter.

The breakthroughs put two potent new weapons in the hands of medical experts in a pandemic war that has infected 54 million people worldwide, killing 1.3 million. Of course we must be cautious. Sceptics will argue that, so far, the vaccines are only on paper and yet to reach the people. But leading epidemiologists and governments across the world are happy that research and tests to date are more than encouraging.

But we must remember here that vaccines will stop Covid-19 – but only if we follow rules. We must continue to manage risks. As the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control pointed out once again, any lifting of restrictions must be balanced against the capacity of a country’s health service. The spread of the virus is directly linked to our behaviour. So while help is at hand, an immediate return to normality is still far, far away.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi