A Confidence Booster for AZ Vax; Western Countries Lose Out on Vaccine Diplomacy

Jack McDermott draws up the AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Middlesbrough, England, January 28, 2021. Image: Ian Forsyth/Getty
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Jack McDermott draws up the AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Middlesbrough, England, January 28, 2021. Image: Ian Forsyth/Getty

A Confidence Booster for AZ Vax


The AstraZeneca vaccine rollercoaster ride that started last week with a steep dive on concerns about the vaccine’s possible link to blood clots turned sharply upwards today on news of stronger than expected efficacy in a 32,000-person trial, STAT reports.
 
The vaccine developed by AZ and the University of Oxford had “efficacy of 79% at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% efficacy at preventing severe disease and hospitalisation,” the company announced in a news release today.
 
Bonus: The vaccine had 80% efficacy for participants who were 65+.
 
The company found no risk of blood clots that led more than 20 countries to pause their AZ vaccine rollouts before the European Medicines Agency and a WHO committee announced support for the vaccine late last week.
 
Impact: The AZ shot known as AZD1222 is a key tool for European countries trying to rev up their slow vaccine rollout and for the COVAX facility that is getting COVID-19 vaccines to low-resource countries, the AP reports.

 

Western Countries Lose Out on Vaccine Diplomacy

 
Rich countries, leveraging their public funds, expertise and connections with Big Pharma, have soaked up about 90% of the 400 million vaccines available so far, The New York Times reports.
 
It wasn’t supposed to be that way—at least not in WHO’s vision.
 
WHO had been urging countries to build provisions for poor countries into contracts. They didn’t. Rich countries also haven’t forced vaccine developers to share their recipes and patents with producers in other countries.
 
The Quote: “It was like a run on toilet paper. Everybody was like, ‘Get out of my way. I’m gonna get that last package of Charmin,’” said Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale epidemiologist. “We just ran for the doses.”
 
The Result: People in some countries may wait for years for vaccinations.
 
But China and Russia have stepped into the void and are winning at vaccine diplomacy so far, Axios reports.  China has produced about a third of the world’s vaccine doses and exported nearly two-thirds of its production to Latin America and other regions.
 
Summer Change: The US could overtake China as the top vaccine exporter by later this summer, said Krishna Udayakumar, director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.
 
 
Related: Vaccine tensions loom in Asia as China and India trade free shots for influence – The Guardian

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