Vaccinum, salutari nostro
This is a Thought leadership opinion article by Saleem Beebeejaun
There were many wild predictions done following the outburst of the COVID 19 almost a year ago. So far there has been almost 60 million people infected, out of which around 1.5 million have died. There has been a lot written and said about the virus and we are today almost a year later much better informed of the virus, the way it is transmitted and the way to fight it. However, these are still early days and we need to better understand the virus and thankfully our knowledge of it is evolving daily.
Viruses are minute and not very complex and there is much debate as to whether they are considered to be living. The viruses hijack the cells in our bodies and create more viruses by converting our cells into virus factories. This makes it complicated for people suffering from viral infections, like the common cold, to be treated as they are difficult to combat without also damaging the cells the virus has infected.
The race for the vaccines is on and so far, there are several mainstream contenders with a few outsiders. Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna AstraZeneca,and Sputnik have announced vaccines that are considered successful . Which one of these vaccines would prevail and would they offer protection over our lifetime or over short periods? Who will get the right vaccine? The challenge is to ensure that the population at risk are those who are vaccinated first especially those living in the low- and middle-income countries.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require storage at temperatures that can go down from -80 C to – 8 C .The AstraZeneca has a significant advantage as it is stored in normal refrigerated temperatures and could be easily transported for distribution and is significantly cheaper.
The plan is for countries to initially receive doses for 3%, then 20% of the population, and then finally 100%. It will be interesting to see how the initial 3% and the subsequent 20% will be arrived at and it will be in the hands of the individual governments to determine who would be the front liners and the at-risk population. The process leading to the vaccine distribution and the identification of those who will be first to benefit needs to be transparent to ensure that the selection is fair and equitable. The United Kingdom has approved the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine paving the way for mass vaccinations. This is also putting pressure on other countries to approve one or the other vaccine.
The vaccination program of C19 vaccines is a first and requires careful preparation. The scale and pace of this exercise has never be done before and it comes with unprecedented challenges COVAX a partnership of the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France was set up in April to ensure that there is equitable access to vaccines globally. However, the demand for the vaccines is massive and the time to administer the vaccines short.
Saleem Beebeejaun is a global consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in senior managerial positions and operated at the highest level of large organizations as CEO and as Chairperson. Saleem’s experience spans across both the financial and non-financial services sector, in particular in the African region. He is an independent Chairperson of board, a director, a chief executive officer, advisor and an entrepreneur and interacts in a very diversified environment, interacting with people of different nationalities, background and cultures. He acts as business facilitator for many HNWIs and has an intuitive ability to gauge clients’ needs and believes in the value of true independent advice, away from institutional commercial pressures.
After completing his Licence – Lès Sciences Economiques from the University of Montpellier, France, Saleem Beebeejaun started his professional career as a supervisor working in the agricultural sector, mainly managing cane fields, with his grandfather. He subsequently undertook further studies in insurance and graduated as a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute. He was awarded the H G Greening prize rewarding him as the first in Life subjects worldwide.
Saleem also followed the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School and is a Harvard alumnus.
Current professional status
Saleem is currently the Chairperson of Rio Zim Limited a listed mining company operating in Zimbabwe and is Chairman of Ashton Financial Partners a management company licensed by the Financial Services Commission in Mauritius
He is the immediate past and first chairperson of Warwyck Private Bank established in Mauritius and licensed by the Bank of Mauritius
Honorary Consul of Malaysia
Saleem has served as the Honorary Consul of Malaysia to Mauritius since 2008. He has been very active and has helped organize many missions and visits of Malaysian dignitaries to Mauritius.
* the vaccine our saviour