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EU seals deal with Novavax for 200mn vax doses

The previously concluded contracts secured a portfolio of up to 4.4 billion doses. Rich western nations have been accused of hoarding far more doses than their citizens need…reports Asian Lite News.

The European Commission announced it has approved a deal that allows European Union (EU) member states to buy up to 200 million doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 jab, once the European Medicines Agency (EMA) deems it safe and effective for use.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Commission said that through the agreement with the US pharmaceutical firm, EU countries will be able to purchase 100 million Novavax vaccine doses, with the option to purchase a further 100 million over the course of 2021, 2022, and 2023, reports Xinhua news agency.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the deal as further strengthening the bloc’s “broad vaccine portfolio”.

The EU has already signed contracts with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNTech-Pfizer, CureVac, Moderna and concluded exploratory talks with Valneva.

The previously concluded contracts secured a portfolio of up to 4.4 billion doses. Rich western nations have been accused of hoarding far more doses than their citizens need.

The Washington Post previously estimated that the US has bought coronavirus vaccines three times the amount needed, while many developing countries are still struggling to get a single dose.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday called on rich countries to halt the plan to distribute Covid-19 booster shots, citing vaccine inequity around the world.

“We need an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press briefing.

EU recommends full vaccination

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have strongly recommended complete Covid-19 vaccination as a key to protect against the most serious effects of the virus, including those caused by the Delta variant.

With the increasing circulation of the Delta variant in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), the two agencies on Wednesday encouraged those who are eligible but have not yet been vaccinated to start the immunization program “in a timely manner”, reports Xinhua news agency.

“While the available vaccines are highly effective in protecting people against severe Covid-19, until higher proportions of the population are immunized, the risk is not beyond us,” ECDC’s Chief Scientist, Mike Catchpole, said.

The organisations emphasized that full vaccination with any of the approved vaccines “offers a high level of protection against severe disease and death caused by SARS-CoV-2, including variants, such as Delta”.

However, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective, and breakthrough infections in vaccinated people will continue as long as the virus continues to circulate.

The agencies therefore recommended that everyone should adhere to national regulations, and continue to take measures such as wearing masks and respecting social distancing, even those who are fully vaccinated.

The EU has reached its target of ensuring that at least 70 pe rcent of the adult population had received at least one dose of vaccine by the end of July, but the member states hope to see this percentage increase to contain the spread of new variants.

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Biological E Vaccine at Rs 250 for 2 doses may be game-changer

“These vaccine doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by M/s Biological-E from August-December 2021,” the ministry had said in a statement…reports Asian Lite News.

Biological E’s made-in-India Covid-19 vaccine has shown very promising results in the initial trials and could have similar efficacy as that of US’ Novavax vaccine because of having a similar platform, Dr N K Arora, chief of the Centre’s Covid working group has said.

On Monday, Novavax announced that NVX-CoV2373, its recombinant nanoparticle protein-based Covid-19 vaccine that Serum Institute of India is locally manufacturing as Covovax, has demonstrated 100% protection against moderate and severe disease, and an overall efficacy of 90.4%.

“Biological E’s vaccine is being developed on a similar platform and that is why we are hopeful that it will also have around 90% or above efficacy. If trials go as planned, we should have the vaccine out for use by October this year,” Arora said.

The cost of the vaccine could be as low as Rs 250 per two doses.

“That is the estimated price that is being talked about but the final price could be different,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Union health ministry announced that it had finalised arrangements with the Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer to reserve 300 million doses, even though the results of the phase I/II trials are yet to be made public and phase III trials are still underway.

“These vaccine doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by M/s Biological-E from August-December 2021,” the ministry had said in a statement.

Dr Arora said he believed there is a strong chance that the world will ultimately depend on India for affordable and effective vaccines against Covid-19.

Heaping praise on the Indian pharmaceutical industry, naming those such as Pune-based Serum Institute and Ahemdabad-based Cadilla Pharma, he expressed excitement about some of their products which could potentially change the dynamics of the battle against the pandemic.

“This may sound presumptuous. Ultimately the world will be dependent on us for vaccines. It is very premature, very presumptuous,” Dr Arora said, his assertion predicated on India’s own requirements being fulfilled first.

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