Tag Archives: AstraZeneca

COVID-19: WHO gives greenlight on AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Some 145 participating economies are set to receive enough doses to immunise 3.3 percent of their collective population by mid-2021.

The World Health Organization gave emergency use approval to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccines on Monday, allowing distribution to some of the world’s poorest countries to begin.

“The WHO today listed two versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through Covax,” a WHO statement said, referring to the programme aimed at equitable distribution of doses.

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The two versions given the seal of approval are being produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and in South Korea.

“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the Covax facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” said Dr Mariangela Simao, the WHO assistant-director general for access to medicines.

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“But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere and facilitate global access. To do that, we need two things — a scale-up of manufacturing capacity, and developers’ early submission of their vaccines for WHO review.”

The UN health agency’s emergency use listing procedure assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines and is a prerequisite for vaccines in the Covax facility.

WHO approval also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer Covid-19 vaccines.

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The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is the only other one to have been given the WHO green light so far.

AstraZeneca vaccines from India and South Korea made up almost all of the doses in the Covax facility’s first wave of distribution.

The distribution list issued on February 3 broke down the programme’s initial 337.2 million doses. First deliveries are expected in late February.

Some 145 participating economies are set to receive enough doses to immunise 3.3 percent of their collective population by mid-2021.

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The distribution list includes 240 million AstraZeneca doses from the SII; 96 million AZ doses being produced in South Korea; and 1.2 million Pfizer doses.

Both vaccines require two injected doses.

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COVID-19: South Africa stops vaccination as worries grow over AstraZeneca

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Efforts are underway in the United States, the hardest-hit nation, to accelerate its mass vaccination programme, which has been plagued by supply and logistics issues.

South Africa suspended the start of its AstraZeneca inoculation programme over concerns the shot does not work on a new variant, with WHO experts due to meet Monday to discuss the vaccine already facing questions about its efficacy for over-65s.

A trial showed the vaccine provides only “minimal” protection against mild to moderate Covid-19 caused by the variant first detected in South Africa, a setback to the global fight against the pandemic as many poorer nations are relying on the logistical advantages offered by the AstraZeneca shot.

Africa’s hardest-hit nation was due to start its campaign in the coming days with a million AstraZeneca doses but the government decided to hold off in light of the results from the trial conducted by the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“It’s a temporary issue that we have to hold on AstraZeneca until we figure out these issues,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters on Sunday.

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The 1.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines obtained by South Africa, which will expire in April, will be kept until scientists give clear indications on their use, he added.

AstraZeneca, which developed the shot with the University of Oxford, told AFP: “We do believe our vaccine will still protect against severe disease.”

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A company spokesperson said researchers were already working to update the vaccine to deal with the South African variant, which has been spreading rapidly around the world.

A World Health Organization panel is due to meet on Monday in Geneva to examine the shot, which is a major component of the initial Covax global vaccine rollout that covers some 145 countries — mostly lower- and lower-middle-income economies.

Out of the initial 337.2 million Covax doses, 240 million are AstraZeneca shots, which do not require the supercold storage needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

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There were already concerns about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca shot among over-65s, with a number of European nations not authorising it yet for that demographic.

‘Be careful’
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 2.3 million lives globally out of nearly 106 million known infections, and despite the AstraZeneca setback, vaccine rollouts in other countries are gathering pace.

Hungarian authorities said Sunday they have approved Russia’s Sputnik V shot, while Cambodia became the latest nation to receive delivery of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, taking on 600,000 doses of the jab.

Efforts are underway in the United States, the hardest-hit nation, to accelerate its mass vaccination programme, which has been plagued by supply and logistics issues.

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President Joe Biden, who took office last month, said his predecessor Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic “was even more dire than we thought”.

“We thought they had indicated there was a lot more vaccine available, and it didn’t turn out to be the case,” he told NoRM‘s known Media on Sunday. “So that’s why we’ve ramped up every way we can.”

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Biden also asked American football fans to “be careful”, with health experts worried about the virus spreading at parties expected during and after the Super Bowl, the country’s biggest sporting event.

A health worker displays a vial containing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, in Suresnes, on February 6, 2021, on the start of a vaccination campaign for health workers with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine. – The top French medical authority Haute autorité de Santé has approved the vaccine for use in France, but only for people under 65, echoing decisions made in Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland over concerns about a lack of data on the effectiveness of the vaccine for over 65s. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

‘I was bored at home’
There was some good news out of Israel, which began emerging out of its third lockdown on Sunday. Israel’s vaccination programme is considered the fastest per-capita in the world.

In neighbouring Jordan, hundreds of thousands of students returned to classrooms on Sunday after almost a year.

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“I am very happy to see my friends and teacher again,” said seven-year-old Mecca at a school in Jabal Amman, in the centre of the Jordanian capital.

“I was bored at home.”

Schools were also expected to reopen on Monday in Romania, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria. Museums and shops were also due to reopen in Austria.

And there was both gloom and optimism in Venice, where the annual Carnival kicked off with much smaller celebrations.

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“Venice is strange this year. It is shocking to see it so empty,” said Armando Bala, a costume salesman.

“We are here today to say that Venice can live and be reborn, as it has several times in its history.”

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COVID-19: AstraZeneca vaccines ‘not effective’ for age 65 and over – Macron

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The discussion about the right target age group for the vaccine has compounded controversy surrounding AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine appeared not to be effective for people over 65 years of age.

Speaking to reporters only hours before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the vaccine for adults of all ages, Macron also questioned Britain’s decision to delay the second dose of Covid vaccines to inoculate more people.

Macron said there was “very little information” available for the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company and Oxford University.

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“Today we think that it is quasi-ineffective for people over 65,” he told the reporters, his office confirmed to AFP.

“What I can tell you officially today is that the early results we have are not encouraging for 60 to 65-year-old people concerning AstraZeneca,” he said.

Macron said he was awaiting the EMA’s verdict which came later Friday and also that of France’s own health authority “because they have the numbers”.

The French expert decision on the vaccine is expected at the start of next week, according to sources close to the health authority.

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“I don’t have any data, and I don’t have a scientific team of my own to look at the numbers,” Macron acknowledged.

Addressing the UK’s vaccination strategy of stretching the time between first and second doses in order to give the protection afforded by the first dose to the maximum number of people, Macron said “the objective is not to have the largest possible number of first doses”.

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In an attempt to speed up its vaccine rollout, UK health chiefs have delayed second doses for up to 12 weeks.

“When you have all the health agencies and the manufacturers who are telling you that for it to work you have to have two injections with a maximum of 28 days between the two, as is the case with Pfizer/BioNTech, and you have countries that have a vaccination strategy of only giving one injection, I am not sure that it’s totally serious,” said Macron.

“Scientists tell you that we accelerate mutations when you only give one injection because people are less well covered and therefore the virus adapts.

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“We lie to people when we say ‘you are vaccinated’. You have a first dose of a vaccine that is made up of two,” he added.

Meanwhile, Germany’s vaccine commission on Friday maintained its advice against using AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccines on older people.

“The reason is because there is currently insufficient data on the effectiveness of the vaccines on people above 65 years old,” said the commission known as STIKO.

The advice by the panel of medical experts will be taken into account by the government as it officially draws up its decree on usage of the vaccine.

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The European Commission Friday published a redacted version of its contract with the drugs giant, hoping to prove the company had breached a commitment on vaccine deliveries.

Brussels is furious with the pharmaceuticals company after it warned that it would only be able to deliver a fraction of the doses the EU had been expecting once the vaccine is approved for use in the bloc.

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#Newsworthy