The Covid-19 vaccination campaign continues in many countries. As several Western states begin to debate the possibility of a vaccine booster, countries with the lowest incomes are still struggling to order enough doses for their populations. An inequality denounced by the World Health Organization (WHO), Wednesday, August 4, while the European Union is in the process of securing its supply from the American group Novavax.
WHO calls for a moratorium on booster doses for better redistribution of vaccines between countries
The WHO Director General called on Wednesday for a moratorium on booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines to be able to make them available to countries that have only been able to immunize a tiny part of their population .
“We urgently need to turn things around: from a majority of vaccines going to rich countries, to a majority going to poor countries”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that the moratorium should last “At least until the end of September”, during a WHO press briefing in Geneva. He was reacting to the fact that Germany and Israel announced campaigns for a third dose (for vaccines that require two initial doses), also called “Dose booster”.
“It’s a wrong choice “, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki commented to Washington. “We think we can do both” and “We don’t need to choose” between administering reminders to the American population, which is not yet officially planned, and helping poor countries, Mr.me Psaki.
The boss of the UN agency denounces, for months, a strong vaccine inequality between rich countries and poor countries. Of the four billion doses injected into the world, 80% went to countries with average or high per capita income, while they represent less than 50% of the world’s population.
He appealed among others to pharmaceutical groups to promote the international Covax program, set up to try to fight against vaccine inequality and in particular to help 92 poor countries to immunize their populations. For the time being, Covax is unable to fulfill its mission, due to a lack of doses, and has only been able to distribute a small fraction of what was initially planned.
European Commission signs contract for seventh vaccine
The European Commission announced on Wednesday that it had entered into a contract with the American pharmaceutical company Novavax for the advance purchase of 200 million doses of its vaccine, once it has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
“Our new agreement with Novavax expands our vaccine portfolio by adding another protein-based vaccine, a platform that has shown promise in clinical trials”, has explained in a press release the Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides.
Under the contract with Novavax, member states will be able to purchase up to 100 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, with an option for an additional 100 million doses over the years 2021, 2022 and 2023, once it has been released. reviewed and approved by the MEA as safe and effective. Member states will also be able to donate vaccines to countries with low or middle income per capita or redirect them to other European countries.
“As new variants spread in Europe and around the world, this new contract signed with a company which is already successfully testing its vaccine against these variants constitutes additional protection for our population”, stressed Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “It further strengthens our vast vaccine portfolio, for the benefit of Europeans and our partners around the world”, she added.
For the Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the Twenty-Seven, this is the seventh contract of this type. The European Union has already signed contracts with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica (Johnson & Johnson), Pfizer-BioNTech, CureVac and Moderna, and it is in talks with the Franco-Austrian biotech company Valneva.
The EU has already vaccinated 50% of its population, according to a count carried out by Agence France-Presse, with vaccines from the companies Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen Pharmaceutica, the only ones so far approved by the EMA . A new contract was signed in early May with Pfizer-BioNTech for the purchase of 1.8 billion additional doses.
UK opens vaccination to 16-17 year olds
The United Kingdom will extend its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 to adolescents aged 16 and 17, refraining for the moment from immunizing all over 12 years like many Western countries, according to information communicated, Wednesday, by the health authorities.
“I asked the NHS [National Health Service] “, the British public health service, “To prepare to vaccinate those who are eligible as soon as possible”Health Minister Sajid Javid said in a statement. The program will start in “The next few weeks”, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said at a press conference.
16-17 year olds will receive a first dose before a decision is made about the second dose after reviewing the data. Young people over 16 are, for now, only eligible if they are considered to be at high risk due to underlying pathologies.
Only Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine has so far been approved in children over 12 years old by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency. According to Wei Shen Lim, who chairs the commission responsible for advising the government on its immunization program, the data will be reviewed for 12-15 year olds.