CategoryIndia

U.S. to Share AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Doses With World

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The Biden administration is making plans to share millions of doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and preparing a major effort to help India fight a resurgence of the virus, as calls mount for the U.S. to do more to assist developing countries in confronting the pandemic.

The White House said Monday it would share as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rest of the world. U.S. officials also said they were exploring options to urgently dispatch oxygen and related supplies to India.

President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India reported 352,991 new coronavirus cases on Monday, marking the fifth consecutive day the country set a global record for a single-day rise in infections.

The Biden administration has faced growing pressure to share vaccine doses with India and other developing countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and are far behind wealthier countries in procuring and administering vaccine doses.

India’s hospitals have been overwhelmed, with beds and oxygen in short supply and crematoriums running out of space as the country recorded a million new cases in just three days. Reports and images of people dying on the pavement waiting for treatment have underscored the severity of the surge.

AstraZeneca declined to comment on whether it was consulted on the decision. “The doses are part of AstraZeneca’s supply commitments to the U.S. government,” a spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said in an email. “Decisions to send U.S. supply to other countries are made by the U.S. government.”

A senior Indian official said New Delhi hadn’t specifically requested the supply of unused AstraZeneca doses, but would gladly accept a portion of them if offered.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-to-share-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-doses-with-world-11619457366

Better Covid Vaccines Are Coming, WHO’s Chief Scientist Says

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New Covid-19 vaccines, including ones that don’t require needles and can be stored at room temperature, may be ready for use later this year or next year, the World Health Organization’s top scientist said.

Six-to-eight new immunizations may complete clinical studies and undergo regulatory review by the end of the year, Soumya Swaminathan, the Geneva-based agency’s chief scientist, said in an interview Saturday.

New vaccines will add to the 10 already shown to work within a year of Covid-19 being declared a pandemic. The world needs more immunizations, especially as the virus’s continuous circulation spawns dangerous new variants and drugmakers struggle to meet orders. Only 122 countries have started immunizing people, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

“We’re thrilled with the vaccines that we have,” said Swaminathan, an Indian pediatrician best known for her research on tuberculosis and HIV. But “we can improve further,” she said. “I think, well into 2022, we’re going to see the emergence of improved vaccines.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-15/better-covid-vaccines-are-coming-who-s-chief-scientist-says

India to kick off one of the world’s largest Covid vaccination drives this weekend

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India is gearing up for one of the largest mass vaccination exercises in the world starting Saturday.

The South Asian country plans to inoculate some 300 million people, or more than 20% of its 1.3 billion population, against Covid-19 in the first phase of the exercise.

Indian airlines have started delivering the first doses of vaccines to Delhi and other major cities, including Kolkata, Ahmedabad and tech hub Bengaluru, tweeted Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri earlier this week.

Priority for the shots will be given to health-care and other frontline workers — an estimated 30 million people. That would be followed by those above 50 years of age and other younger, high-risk individuals.

The rollout will involve close collaboration between the central government and states.

India has also developed a digital portal called Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System. It will provide real-time information on “vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries,” according to the health ministry.

“India’s expertise in vaccine manufacturing and experience with mass immunization campaigns has prepared it well for ‘phase 1’ vaccinations set to begin this weekend,” Akhil Bery, South Asia analyst at Eurasia Group, wrote in a report this week.

“India has a long history of immunization campaigns, including its Universal Immunization Program that inoculates 55 million a year, and will rely on this expertise to distribute coronavirus vaccines,” he added.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/14/india-kicks-off-massive-covid-19-vaccination-drive-on-saturday-jan-16.html

All Indians to get free COVID-19 vaccine, says Union Minister

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“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that all people will be provided vaccines free of cost. An estimated ₹500 will be spent on vaccination of each person,” says Union Minister of State Pratap Sarangi.

Union Minister Pratap Sarangi on October 25 said that all Indians will be given free COVID-19 vaccine, amidst the demand by Opposition parties in the country for it and not only in poll-bound Bihar as announced by the BJP.

The BJP announcement of free COVID-19 vaccine for Bihar had kicked up a controversy with the Opposition parties tearing into the NDA government alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political reasons.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the announcement was in order as it was an election manifesto announcement.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that all people will be provided vaccines free of cost. An estimated ₹500 will be spent on vaccination of each person,” Mr. Sarangi told reporters after addressing a campaign meeting for the November 3 Assembly bypoll in Balasore.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-all-indians-to-get-free-covid-19-vaccine-says-union-minister/article32940902.eceHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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India approves Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use in major breakthrough for Covid fightback

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India has given a green light for emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, making it the first jab to be granted approval by regulators in the Covid-19 pandemic’s second worst-hit country.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), whose experts were meeting on Friday for the second time this week came to the decision that paves the way for a near-immediate start to the inoculation process, according to Reuters.

The group was meeting a day ahead of a nationwide trial run for vaccine delivery in the country. According to Indian media reports, both AstraZeneca and the makers of a local vaccine candidate made presentations before the panel on Wednesday, while Pfizer, which has also applied for emergency authorisation sought more time to present their data.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, branded as “Covishield” in India, is being locally produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the biggest vaccine manufacturer in the world. 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-covid-vaccine-oxford-astrazeneca-b1781201.htmlHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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U.S. plans to ship 2.9 million Covid vaccine doses as early as the end of this week

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U.S. officials said the federal government plans to start distributing 2.9 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of this week once the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency clearance for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which could come as early as Thursday or Friday.

Gen. Gustave Perna, who oversees logistics for President Donald Trump’s vaccine program Operation Warp Speed, said an additional 2.9 million doses will be set aside for patients to get their second shot. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses administered three weeks apart. The government has also set aside a reserve of 500,000 doses in case of an emergency or manufacturing hiccup, he said.

Setting spare doses aside is “good Army general officer planning,” Perna said Wednesday during a press briefing on Covid vaccine distribution, “so that we make sure that in case we need to react to some situation we had some reserves.”

Eventually, the federal government and states will be more “confident” in the distribution process of the vaccine and a reserve will no longer be necessary, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is leading Operation Warp Speed, said at the same press briefing. “That is the method that we’re using for the initial distributions,” he added.

The officials said the initial doses would go to 64 jurisdictions as well as five federal agencies – the Bureau of Prisons, Department of Defense, Department of State, Indian Health Service and Veterans Health Administration. The Department of Defense is slated to start distributing its first 44,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as early as next week, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/09/coronavirus-vaccine-us-plans-to-ship-2point9-million-covid-doses-as-early-as-the-end-of-this-week.htmlHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Indian company aims for a billion Covid vaccines

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Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, has said his company is ready to “push the button” to make 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine a month in the country.

He told BBC World News: “We have targeted about a billion doses by the end of 2021. In fact we have already made about 40 million doses in India and stockpiled it.”

Mr Poonawalla hoped they would be producing 100 million doses a month by January or February after full regulatory approval.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-india-55091890HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Summer of 2021 will be almost normal: Bill Gates

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes that a “lot of things” will be back to “normal” by the summer of 2021 if COVID-19 vaccine approvals don’t turn up any nasty surprises.

“Very likely by the summer, a lot of things will be back to normal… If vaccine approvals come along quickly,” Gates said in a television interview on Thursday night.

Two vaccines, one each from Pfizer and Moderna, have already turned up more than 90 per cent efficacy results and are moving fast towards applying for emergency use approval.

The first vaccinations are tipped to begin in the US late December.

“We will be able to go back to offices and open up those restaurants and bars and say okay, we are in a completely different stage than right now,” Gates said about his summer of 2021 vision.

He thinks a 2021 school year that is “completely normal” is within reach.

“We can get the whole country, every city back in school. I think that’s achievable and a very important goal to have in mind,” Gates told CNN.

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/international/summer-of-2021-will-be-almost-normal-bill-gatesHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Moderna Covid-19 vaccine stability eases distribution challenges

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Moderna Inc’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more stable than expected at temperatures that ordinary refrigerators can provide and can be distributed using existing cold-chain shipping and storage infrastructure.

That opens the door for its early use in hard to reach places that might not be appropriate for Pfizer Inc’s vaccine which needs ultra-cold storage.

Moderna’s vaccine is stable for up to six months at a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 F), about home freezer levels, when shipped and stored.

The company said it expects the vaccine to be stable when kept at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for 30 days, up from an initial projection of 7 days. The vaccine will be distributed in 10-dose vials and can be kept at room temperature for up to 12 hours after thawing.

By comparison, Pfizer’s vaccine can be transported and stored for up to 6 months at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F). It can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for up to five days.

Moderna’s vaccine will be distributed by the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program. U.S. health officials have said that at first they are most likely to distribute vaccines to healthcare workers, people who are in nursing homes, first responders and those with health conditions who are high-risk.

Most Americans will be inoculated in May or June, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Under Operation Warp Speed’s distribution plan, the first group of shots will likely be distributed to and administered in closed settings, like hospitals and nursing homes.

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-moderna-covid-19-vaccine-stability-eases-distribution-challenges-7053670/HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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India to Get 100 Million Astra Vaccine Shots by Next Month

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The world’s largest vaccine maker is ramping up production of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 shot, aiming to have 100 million doses ready by December for an inoculation drive that could begin across India that same month.

If final-stage trial data show AstraZeneca’s candidate gives effective protection from the virus, the Serum Institute of India Ltd. — which is partnered to produce at least one billion doses — may get emergency authorization from New Delhi by December, said Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of the family-owned firm based in the western city of Pune.

That initial amount will go to India, Poonawalla said in an interview on Thursday. Full approval early next year will allow distribution on a 50-50 basis with the South Asian nation and Covax, the World Health Organization-backed body that’s purchasing shots for poor nations. Serum, which has tied up with five developers, has so far made 40 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in the past two months and aims to start manufacturing Novavax Inc.’s contender soon.

Serum Institute Of India Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla Interview

Adar PoonawallaPhotographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

“We were a bit concerned it was a big risk,” said 39-year-old Poonawalla. But both AstraZeneca and Novavax’s shots “are looking pretty good.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-13/india-to-get-100-million-astra-shots-next-month-says-serum-headHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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