Home Covid-19 How to live in war zones waiting for the vaccine against COVID-19

How to live in war zones waiting for the vaccine against COVID-19

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While the scientific world retraces the last stages of a race that seems to be endless to obtain and subsequent approval of a drug to begin with vaccination, the second challenge, without a doubt, will be its distribution. Of course, the situation of the various countries is a factor to take into account when deploying logistics. This is stated by the Spanish nurse Míriam Alía (46), an expert in vaccines at Doctors without Borders (MSF). A clear example of this is the work carried out by many NGOs. His work like that of the rest of his colleagues is not easy at all. Zones of warlike conflict, refugees, and devastated territories, for whatever reason, are the field of action of all the campaigns carried out by the organization. Infobae He interviewed her to learn more about her experience in logistics and distribution in such delicate contexts.

—How do you experience COVID-19 in war zones?

—We have several countries that have had large peaks in the first months of the epidemic and then quite a few countries that have not had many cases, but have great difficulty in accessing the most essential treatment measures such as oxygen and symptom treatment. It is very difficult for people living in humanitarian crisis or trapped in conflict to have access to health services, both primary care and specialized care and intensive care.

What is the main obstacle they face in reaching these territories?

The main obstacle is security, because access must be negotiated with armed actors or on war fronts. In some countries, there have been interim peace agreements to allow people sick with COVID-19 to be treated. Then there is a problem of access to qualified human resources, because in war zones it is very difficult to find doctors or nurses since the schools are very limited. Then it is the difficulty of security and the structural problem of health services in these countries.

Míriam Alía, Vaccine Expert at Doctors Without Borders (video 2) #Interview

—In places where the problem is very complex, is it worsened even more by the pandemic?

-Clear. What we are seeing is that in some of the places where we work, regardless of the fact that there may not be many cases, as resources are very limited, they are dedicated exclusively to treating COVID-19 patients, or for example, laboratories only to analyze diagnostic tests. What we are seeing is, above all in vaccination, is that many campaigns for the treatment of other diseases have been paralyzed, as well as food distributions, in addition to having problems finding diagnostic tests for malaria. In a situation of limited resources, if everyone is dedicated to COVID-19, in the end, the indirect mortality is much higher.

“Will logistics be the second problem?”

—The logistics of vaccination campaigns are always very complicated, because they are very sensitive drugs that generally have to be kept between 2 and 8 degrees. This in countries that do not have electricity, or that are very remote areas, you have to get there by canoe or motorcycle, and this is very complicated. If you add to this that some of these vaccines have even more complicated cold chain requirements, this is going to involve a lot of expense and logistical complication to vaccinate in some countries.

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Doctors Without Borders carried out a vaccination campaign for migrant children on the island of Lesbos

—What is your message for those who are at a critical moment when seeing the numbers of infected and deceased?

—There is one thing that is common in all epidemics, and in this case, it is even more important as it is a global problem, which is the participation of the community and society. There is an epidemic fatigue. Everyone is very tired of the rules, of restrictive measures. There are many cases and many deaths, but we must continue. Because until we are all protected, no one will be.

– With urgent needs in these areas, would attention for COVID-19 be relegated?

– Clear. We have seen this, for example, with Ebola, in the Congo, in which vaccination was stopped to avoid that there were many people together waiting to be vaccinated. There, finally, there was more mortality from measles than from Ebola. The countries where we work, malaria, nutrition, vaccination and maternity, are causes that will have a high percentage of indirect mortality if only treated by COVID-19.

—Can personal hygiene be tackled in that context too?

– When we talk about refugee camps, physical distance or hand hygiene is practically impossible. In other words, when the motto was “stay home”, this leaves out people who do not have a home. The problem of living conditions in refugee camps has come from before and what this pandemic does is to highlight it. The living conditions of the displaced are unacceptable. And if there is a case in these fields, the capacity for an explosion and an outbreak is very high.

Doctors Without Borders vaccination campaign against measles, mumps, rubella and polio in a camp on the island of Chios
Doctors Without Borders vaccination campaign against measles, mumps, rubella and polio in a camp on the island of Chios

What do you think the post-pandemic will be like in all these places?

—In some places the cases have already dropped a lot and at this moment we are beginning to recover activities that were paralyzed or that we have not been able to maintain during the first peak. We are prepared for a second wave, and of course prepared for when there is a vaccination available in places where the health ministry cannot reach, we could.

—As soon as the first vaccine against COVID-19 is approved, would you get it?

“I got the Ebola vaccine as soon as I had a chance.” This is a personal decision that people have to make with transparent and clear information. It is normal for people to have fear and doubts. Taking into account the degree of exposure, when there is a validated vaccine and if I have access and there is no restriction of vaccines only for the elderly. Yes, I get vaccinated.

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Míriam Alía, an expert in vaccines at Doctors Without Borders, explained in a dialogue with Infobae how difficult it is to vaccinate in the most complicated conditions: war conflicts, famines and refugee camps. In turn, he stated that without a doubt, once approved, he would be vaccinated against COVID-19

Míriam Alía, an expert in vaccines at Doctors Without Borders, explained in a dialogue with Infobae how difficult it is to vaccinate in the most complicated conditions: war conflicts, famines and refugee camps. In turn, he stated that without a doubt, once approved, he would be vaccinated against COVID-19

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