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As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January.
Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects.
Moderna last week released preliminary data for its vaccine showing 94.5% effectiveness.
The better-than-expected results from the two vaccines, both developed with new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, have raised hopes of an easing of a pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people.
In the US, the head of the US vaccine program, Moncef Slaoui, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December, CNN reported on Sunday.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” he said in an interview to CNN.
Citing government sources, the Telegraph also said the UK’s National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December.
Britain formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, last week to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The UK Department of Health had no comment on Sunday on when the first vaccinations would be administered.
Britain has ordered 40m doses and expects to have 10m doses, enough to protect 5 million people, available by the end of the year if regulators approve it.
Germany could also start administering shots of Covid-19 vaccines as soon as next month, health minister Jens Spahn was quoted as saying on Sunday. He said Spain and Germany were the first European Union countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place.
“There is reason to be optimistic that there will be approval for a vaccine in Europe this year,” Spahn said in an interview with publishing group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. “And then we can start right away.”
Spahn said he had asked Germany’s federal states to have their vaccination centres ready by mid-December and that this was going well. “I would rather have a vaccination centre ready a few days early than an approved vaccine that isn’t being used immediately.”
Germany has secured more than 300m vaccine doses via the European Commission, bilateral contracts and options, Spahn said, adding that this was more than enough and even left room to share doses with other countries.
Spain will begin a comprehensive vaccination programme in January and expects to have covered a substantial part of the population within three months, the prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said on Sunday.
“The campaign will start in January and have 13,000 vaccination points,” Sanchez told a news conference after a two-day online summit of G20 leaders. “A very substantial part of the population will be able to be vaccinated, with all guarantees, in the first quarter of the year.”
Meanwhile, nearly 2bn doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be shipped and flown to developing countries next year in a “mammoth operation”, the UN children’s agency Unicef said on Monday, as world leaders vowed to ensure the fair distribution of vaccines.
Unicef said it was working with more than 350 airlines and freight companies to deliver vaccines and a billion syringes to poor countries such as Burundi, Afghanistan and Yemen as part of Covax, a global Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan with the World Health Organization (WHO).
“This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation,” said Etleva Kadilli, director of Unicef’s supply division, in a statement.
Covax – co-led by Gavi vaccine group, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations – aims to discourage governments from hoarding Covid-19 vaccines and to focus on first vaccinating the most at risk in every country.
Unicef’s role with Covax stems from its status as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world. It said it procures more than 2bn doses of vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.
Source: The Guardian
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