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Pandemic Disrupts Routine Immunization Services

Mounir Jamil

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Pandemic Disrupts Routine Immunization Services

As the pandemic continues spreading, the coronavirus is now disrupting lifesaving immunization services around the globe, and putting millions of children at risk of diseases like measles, diphtheria, and polio. This warning comes jointly from WHO the World Health Organization, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and UNICEF. The warning came just before the Global Vaccine Summit is set to take place on June 4th, where leaders will unite in helping to maintain immunization programs and manage the impact of the pandemic in low income countries (LMICs).

Data collected by UNICEF, WHO, Gavi, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute indicate that the provisioning of routine immunization services is being substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and will impact approximately 80 million children under the age of 1.

Almost 53% of the 129 countries where the data was available have reported moderate-to-severe disruption in immunization services, or a total suspension of vaccination services during March and April 2020.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said that immunization is the most powerful disease prevention tool in the history of public health. Disruption to immunization services due to the pandemic threatens decades of progress against certain vaccine preventable diseases.

The reasons due to the disruption of immunization services vary. Some parents are hesitant to leave the home due to restrictions on movement, lack of information or because they are afraid of infection. Many health workers are unavailable due to restrictions on travel, lack of protective equipment or redeployment to COVID response duties.

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi mentioned that more children are now protected against more vaccine diseases than ever before in history. However due to the pandemic, this progress is now under great threat, risking the resurface of diseases like polio and measles. “Not only will the maintenance of immunization services prevent more outbreaks, it will also ensure we have the necessary infrastructure for an eventual coronavirus vaccine,” Berkley affirms.

Transport delays of vaccines are not helping the situation. UNICEF has reported a significant delay in planned vaccine deliveries due to the enforced lockdown and the decline in commercial flights. To help alleviate the situation, UNICEF is appealing to governments, the airline industry, the private sector and others so that they free up freight space at an affordable cost for these necessary vaccines. UNICEF and Gavi recently signed an agreement that provides advanced funding to cover the increased freight cost for the delivery of vaccines.

In the upcoming week, WHO will issue new advice to countries regarding maintaining essential services throughout the pandemic, including tips and recommendations on how to provide the immunizations safely.

Several countries have temporarily suspended preventive mass vaccination campaigns against measles meningitis, cholera, typhoid, yellow fever and polio, due to the risk of transmission and the need to keep physical distancing enforced during the pandemic.

In particular, polio and measles vaccination campaigns have been hard hit with measles campaigns being suspended in 27 countries and polio campaigns being put on hold in 38 different countries. An expected minimum of 24 million people in 21 Gavi-supported lower income countries risk missing out on the vaccines against polio, measles, yellow fever, typhoid, cholera, rotavirus, meningitis A, HPV, and rubella due to the prolonged campaigns and the introduction of new vaccines.

Late in March, WHO recommended that countries temporarily suspend preventive campaigns, while they assess the risks and effective measures for reducing the virus transmission.

Since then, WHO have been monitoring the situation, and issued advice that aids countries in determining how and when to resume mass vaccination campaigns. The guide notes that countries will have to make specific risk assessments based on local dynamics of the virus transmission, health system capacities, and public health benefit of undergoing preventive response vaccination campaigns.

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MedTech

The multi-cloud adoption boom

Mounir Jamil

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multi-cloud adoption

As the rapid advancements in tech continue – fueled by the current pandemic – we find ourselves stretching our limits and breaking boundaries. An important area that has gained significant traction this year is cloud computing, and more specifically, multi-cloud adoption.

What is multi-cloud? 

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, a multi-cloud environment Is when an enterprise utilizes more than one cloud platform and delivers a specific function, application, or service. Multi-clouds can be made up of private, public, and edge clouds to achieve a datacenter’s end goals and objectives. 

Multi-cloud adoption garnered a significant increase to 70 percent year-over-year in 2020, outpacing the previous year by a whopping 20 percent. 

Current State of multi-cloud

The Continuous Intelligence Report The State of Modern applications, DevSecOps and the Impact of COVID-19 from Sumo Logic revealed that customers adopted 3 main vendors to meet their cloud needs; CloudTrail (60 percent), VPC Flow Logs (34 percent) and GuardDuty (22 percent) respectively. 

The report is developed from data that is aggregated from more than 2100 Sumo Logic customers that run applications over several major cloud platforms as well as on-premises environments. The report highlighted the importance of securing cloud workloads via the adoption of both cloud-native security technologies and available cloud data sources. 

Furthermore, the pandemic has highlighted how important remote work is – and that is where cloud-computing shines bright. The rise in multi-cloud adoption led enterprises to modern cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

It is noteworthy to mention that AWS regional centers in the EU and US were among the top targets for hackers, according to the Sumo Logic’s global intelligence. 

What are the benefits of multi-cloud adoption? 

  • Flexibility: No single cloud can perform most business functions, or at least no single cloud can do everything well. Integrating multi-cloud can allocate the right cloud platform to the right business function 
  • Proximity: By hosting some workloads through regional cloud providers that operate closer to where the user is, the enterprise would be greatly enhancing a user’s experience
  • Failover: As a failover solution, multi-cloud adoption can protect an enterprise from outages by providing readily available and highly scalable backup for data and workflows for systems 
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MedTech

Why GovTech adoption during COVID-19 is a must

Adnan Kayyali

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Govtech

GovTech is a new term that refers to the modernization and/or digitization of government services for better accessibility and efficiency of public services. A mouth full, but this suggests a need for governments to do what the private sector has been doing from the start: embrace and incorporate industry 4.0 technology. However, to do so on a governmental level is complex.

The tech revolution occurring around the world, accelerated by the pandemic will not wait for governments to search their paper file cabinet for a solution. Citizens’ expectations of speed and efficiency are set higher by the private sector.

Too many authorities in developing nations, and many government-managed institutions in developed nations, are woefully behind on tech adoption within their systems.

According to the World Bank’s definition as stated in their brief, GovTech is essentially about putting people first.

“GovTech is a whole-of-government approach to public sector modernization that promotes simple, accessible, and efficient government”.

Governments who had already begun improving their digital infrastructure before the pandemic, had a better chance of curbing outbreaks after the initial wave with known exceptions. Namely the US and UK. 

Examples of GovTech used well during the pandemic can be found more to the east, in Singapore and South Korea among others, where data-gathering and citizen compliance with safety measures worked well to begin with.

Still, in the United states we see examples of GovTech being implemented even before the pandemic.

In areas of infrastructure, 120 Water Audit was recently launched, a cloud-based water management software, that a government on any level and size can use to minimize water waste.

During the pandemic, we have seen companies like BlueDot develop early warning systems to predict outbreaks, allowing governments to react preemptively. These systems used data gathered from numerous data sets from news, medical records and airlines to detect certain trends using their algorithm.

In the future, we should expect better GovTech adoption in public health services. Governments must work with the private sector to secure the right systems and consolidate their systems for better data collection. Undoubtedly, this is a long-term process.

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MedTech

Vaccine warriors: University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine update

Mounir Jamil

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University of Oxford

As the race for a new COVID-19 vaccine continues, the University of Oxford vaccine is effective at stopping people from developing COVID-19 symptoms. Overall, results indicated 70 percent protection rate, however, researchers claim that figures can increase to 90% if the dose is modified. 

Study lead, Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford, has vast experience in clinical trials of new and improved vaccines for children and adults. 

In comparison to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the University of Oxford vaccine is far cheaper, easier to store and can be transported to every country around the world. It shows highly promising use in tackling the current pandemic, if it gets the approval from regulators, who will assess the vaccine based on safety, efficacy and manufacturing standards. This process is set to take place in the coming weeks.  

While typical vaccines usually take around a decade to be developed, the University of Oxford vaccine was developed in about 10 months. Initial trials involved a sample size of 20,000 individuals: 10,000 participants in the UK and 10,000 participants in Brazil. From the study, there were 30 Coronavirus cases from those who received two doses of the vaccine and 101 cases in people receiving placebo treatment.

The researchers say it works out at 70 percent protection however, it increased to 90 percent when people were given a “low” dose followed by a high one. It remains unclear why there is a difference. 

Although nothing will happen until the University of Oxford vaccine receives full approval, the UK is preparing for an unprecedented immunization campaign. Care home residents and staff will be the first in line while healthcare workers and citizens 80 years and above, will be the next priority. The plan is to steadily work down the age groups. 

After Pfizer and Moderna introduced their vaccine candidates with a protection rate of 95 and 90 percent respectively, a figure of 70 percent might be perceived by some as disappointing. However, in reality, anything above 50 percent is considered promising. 

AstraZeneca, Oxford University’s manufacturing partner is prepping to make three billion doses of the vaccine to be made available worldwide.

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