COVID-19: UK authorities have ordered 100 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, of which 520,000 are ready on Monday
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has already been injected to more than a million Britons since the launch of the vaccination campaign in early December. This Monday, the United Kingdom becomes the first to administer to its population the vaccine from the British laboratory AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford against Covid-19, while considering a new severe turn of the screw to curb the worsening of the pandemic.
AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine is less expensive, easier to store and therefore more suitable for a large-scale immunization campaign than those of its competitors Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, already approved and distributed in several countries, including the United States.
British authorities have ordered 100 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, of which 520,000 are ready on Monday, according to the Department of Health. In England, hundreds of new vaccination centres are due to open this week, in addition to the 730 already in place.
“I am delighted today to launch the Oxford vaccine, inherited from British science,” Health Minister Matt Hancock said in a statement Monday. “This is a turning point in our fight against this horrible virus and I hope it will give everyone hope that the end of this pandemic is in sight.”
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was also authorized by Argentina and, on Sunday, by India, which will allow this country of 1.3 billion inhabitants to start one of the most massive vaccination campaigns in the world. India, where Covid-19 has killed more than 150,000, wants to immunize up to 300 million people by mid-2021.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has the advantage of being inexpensive (around 2.50 euros per dose). It can also be stored at refrigerator temperature, unlike Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines which can only be stored long term at very low temperatures (-20 ° C for the first, -70 ° C for the second).
However, its authorization within the European Union should not take place in January, according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The United States, meanwhile, does not plan to approve it until April.
With more than 75,000 dead, the United Kingdom is one of the countries in Europe most bereaved by the coronavirus. Nearly 55,000 more people have tested positive for the virus in 24 hours, exceeding the threshold of 50,000 for the sixth day in a row, according to the latest official data released on Sunday. The rapid expansion of the epidemic, attributed to a new variant of the virus, has prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to consider tighter restrictions.
“We may have to do things in the coming weeks which will be more difficult in several parts of the country,” Boris Johnson told the BBC on Sunday. He added that closing schools, a measure taken in late March during the first wave of the pandemic, “is one of those things.”
Egypt chooses Chinese vaccine
Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world with some 100 million inhabitants, announced for its part that it had authorized the vaccine developed by Chinese Sinopharm. Mexico, meanwhile, said more than 20% of the country’s healthcare workers, or about 28,000 out of 150,000 people, had already received a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to figures published by their manufacturers, Sinopharm’s vaccine is 79% effective, Pfizer-BioNTech’s 95% and Moderna’s 94.1% effective. AstraZeneca-Oxford, for its part, claimed an efficiency rate of 70%, but which could reach 100% with two doses. If the arrival of vaccines gives hope for an improvement at the start of the year, production and supply rates are still far from satisfactory.
The vaccination campaign in the United States is gaining momentum and could reach one million injections per day, officials assured Sunday in the face of criticism of its initial delay, in a country which has just crossed the mark of 350,000 dead.
The European Union for its part recognized on Saturday a “global insufficiency” of vaccine production capacities, saying it was “ready to help” to increase them. However, for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, it is the rate of acquisition of vaccines by the EU that is in question. Products “were available earlier in Canada, the UK and Israel,” he said on Sunday.
In France, Prof. Mehdi Mejdoubi, from the Valenciennes hospital centre (north), does not understand “why there is such a gap with Germany : Germany vaccinates 20,000 people per day, we are 50 people vaccinated per day “. Since last Sunday, more than 238,000 people (238,809) have been vaccinated in Germany, according to the Robert-Koch health watch institute.
South Africa, also hard hit by the second wave of the pandemic, hopes to get its first vaccines in February but the timing will depend on the outcome of ongoing negotiations with several pharmaceutical companies, the Minister of Health announced on Sunday.
In recent weeks, the South African government has come under criticism, including from health experts in the country, for delaying the process of acquiring Covid-19 vaccines. The pandemic has killed at least 1,835,824 people worldwide for more than 84,508,990 cases of infection, according to an assessment established by AFP from official sources on Sunday.