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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Explained: The latest on Covid-19 vaccines from around the world

In the United States Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SA have filed for full approval for their Covid-19 vaccine, which until now has only been authorised for emergency use.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: May 8, 2021 1:31:46 pm
An Iraqi nurse prepares a shot of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine while followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gather for vaccination at a clinic in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, May 4, 2021. (AP)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday gave emergency use authorisation to the coronavirus vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm. With this, the vaccine could soon potentially reach millions in developing countries around the world through the global UN-backed Covax vaccine-sharing programme.

“This afternoon, WHO gave emergency use listing to sign off on Beijing’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the sixth vaccine to receive WHO validation for safety, efficacy and quality,” WHO director general Tedros Adhahom Ghebreysus said. However apart from efficacy numbers, data about the vaccine, developed in Beijing, is limited.

Meanwhile, in the United States Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SA have filed for full approval for their Covid-19 vaccine, which until now has only been authorised for emergency use. If approved by the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the shot will be the first to receive a nod from the body — a move which many believe will help ease vaccine hesitancy in the country. In December, the jab was the first to be authorised for emergency use in the US based on two months of safety data for a 44,000-person clinical trial.

Here is the latest on Covid-19 vaccines and inoculation drives from around the world

India approves Roche/Regeneron antibody cocktail to treat Covid

India has given emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 antibody drug cocktail developed by Roche (ROG.S) and Regeneron (REGN.O), first made famous by former United States President Donald Trump who took the drug when he was diagnosed with the deadly infection.

“We are focused on working towards access and timely delivery of supplies,” V Simpson Emmanuel, Managing Director, Roche Pharma India said by email. The company will import product batches to India and will market and distributed these through a strategic partnership with Cipla Limited.

Britain will be free of Covid by August, says outgoing vaccine task force 

The novel coronavirus will not be circulating in the United Kingdom as early as August, he government’s departing vaccine taskforce chief Clive Dix  said in an interview with the Telegraph. He added that a vaccine booster programme could be pushed back to early 2022, Reuters reported.

By the end of July, Dix believes everyone in the UK would have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, following which, “we’ll have probably protected the population from all the variants that are known.”

EU calls on US and others to exports their vaccines

Rather than waiving intellectual property rights on shots, the European Commission has urged the United States and other major vaccine producers to export what they make like the European Union does, Reuters reported. This comes after the US announced its support for waiving intellectual property (IP) protections for these vaccines.

“We should be open to lead this discussion. But when we lead this discussion, there needs to be a 360 degree view on it because we need vaccines now for the whole world,” Commission head Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference. “The European Union is the only continental or democratic region of this world that is exporting at large scale.”

Canada approves use of Pfizer Covid vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds

Canada’s health agency has approved Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in children between the ages of 12 and 15. Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said the announcement “marks a significant milestone in Canada’s fight against the pandemic.”

The announcement comes less than a month after Health Canada began its review of the efficacy of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine when administered on adolescents.

US’ FDA to approve Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents

The US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to authorise the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 as early as next week, the New York Times reported. The official announcement is expected less than a month after the company found that its shot, which is already authorised for those over the age of 16, also protects younger people against the deadly infection.

US President Joe Biden aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced his plans to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of all adults in the country with at least one Covid-19 shot by the 4th of July weekend, when the country celebrates its Independence Day.

“Now that we have the vaccine supply, we’re focused on convincing even more Americans to show up and get the vaccine that is available to them,” Biden said at a White House press briefing, according to Reuters.

So far, the US has been able to administer 247,769,049 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday. The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech , as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

The next generation of Covid vaccines could be nasal sprays, pills

Researchers currently working on developing the next generation of Covid-19 vaccines are saying that the vaccines may not longer be in injection form in the future, and will instead be administered as tablets or nasal sprays. With this, the vaccines will become much simpler to store and transport as compared to the shots that are presently being used to fight the deadly pandemic, researchers said.

These futuristic vaccines are being developed by government labs and private companies in the United States, such as Sanofi SA, Altimmune Inc and Gritstone Oncology Inc, the Wall Street Journal reported. Out of the 93 vaccine trials presently underway, only two are for pills and seven are for nasal sprays, according to data released by the World Health Organisation.

“There are really good ones coming, through nasal and oral vaccines,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said during an online panel last week. “That will make it much easier.”

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South Korean study finds one shot of AstraZeneca, Pfizer Covid vaccines 87% effective

A single dose of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines were found to be 86.6 per cent effective in preventing infections among people over the age of 60, data released by South Korea showed on Wednesday.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) showed that the Pfizer vaccine was about 89.7 per cent effective in preventing the disease two weeks after the first dose was administered, while the AstraZeneca vaccine was 86 per cent effective, Reuters reported.

Covid vaccine patents dominate trade talks

Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Wednesday are set to look at the progress in talks on a proposal by South Africa and India to waive patent rights on Covid vaccines to help reap up their export to developing nations, Reuters reported.

The two countries are asking for the strict rules under the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement to be eased. For the WTO to alter its trade rules, all 164 members will need to be on board.

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