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Published: 10:22, June 22, 2022 | Updated: 18:31, June 22, 2022
COVID jab scheme for world's poorest pushes for slow delivery
By Agencies
Published:10:22, June 22, 2022 Updated:18:31, June 22, 2022 By Agencies

A pharmacist reconstitutes the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as she fills syringes with the vaccine for the incoming public at the UMass Memorial Health Care COVID-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22, 2021. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP)

MEXICO CITY / LONDON / HARARE / COPENHAGEN / PARIS - Leaders of the global scheme aiming to get COVID-19 vaccines to the world's poorest are pushing manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna to cut or slow deliveries of about half a billion shots so doses are not wasted.

COVAX, the World Health Organization-led scheme, wants between 400 and 600 million fewer vaccines doses than initially contracted from six pharmaceutical companies, according to internal documents seen by Reuters

COVAX, the World Health Organization-led scheme, wants between 400 and 600 million fewer vaccines doses than initially contracted from six pharmaceutical companies, according to internal documents seen by Reuters.

ALSO READ: US to start COVID vaccination for children as young as 6 mths

While at first the initiative struggled for shots as wealthy nations snapped up limited supply, donations from those same countries later in 2021, as well as improved output from manufacturers - alongside delivery challenges and vaccine hesitancy in a number of countries – has led to a glut of vaccine in 2022.

"COVAX has called for manufacturers to acknowledge the global oversupply situation, and support collective efforts to meet the timing of countries' needs and avoid unnecessary wastage," said a spokesperson for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which runs the initiative alongside WHO.

Gavi wants manufacturers to either reduce the size of the initial orders or at least "re-phase" them, meaning they are delivered at a later date that is more aligned with when countries need them.

ALSO READ: US to start COVID vaccination for children as young as 6 mths

Future negotiations might also include getting the variant-specific vaccines currently being tested by manufacturers including Moderna and Pfizer.

While Gavi is close to an agreement with some manufacturers, contract negotiations with other companies are not as advanced, according to sources close to the talks. No deals have yet been agreed.

The biggest orders are with Moderna and Pfizer, alongside the Serum Institute of India, Novavax , Johnson & Johnson and Clover Biopharmaceuticals.

"Being cognisant of local needs, we are seeking to provide pragmatic solutions to requests whenever possible," Pfizer said in an emailed statement, while Novavax said the status of its COVAX deliveries was currently "unclear". Moderna said it had nothing to add at this time.

COVAX follows in the steps of other vaccine buyers in trying to cut deliveries agreed at the height of the pandemic, including European Union governments. Pfizer and Moderna have agreed to delay some shipments. 

In total, COVAX has delivered more than 1.5 billion doses in the last 18 months.

An employee at a Nordisk Film cinema in the center of Copenhagen on May 6, 2021 checks the "Corona pass” of a customer as they come to watch a film on the first day that movie theaters in the Danish capital reopened after being closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. (TOM LITTLE / AFP)

Denmark

Denmark plans to offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose in the autumn to those who are over 50 years old, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday as she announced a strategy to curb the spread of the disease over the coming months.

Although COVID infections are still at low levels, Denmark has seen an increase in the number of cases after the new BA.5 subvariant of Omicron, which seems to spread more quickly than other variants, became dominant in the Nordic country.

France

France is facing a new wave of COVID-19 infections fuelled by new variants of the disease, French vaccination chief Alain Fischer said on Wednesday, as daily new cases reached an almost two-month peak the day before at more than 95,000.

Speaking on France 2 television, he said there was no doubt there was once again an upsurge of the pandemic in the country, adding he was personally in favour of reinstating mandatory face mask wearing on public transport.

This undated photo shows a logo of US drugmaker Pfizer. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)

Pfizer 

Pfizer Inc's blockbuster COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid violates an Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc patent for its COVID-19 drug still in development, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Boston federal court.

Watertown, Massachusetts-based Enanta told the court it received the patent for its antiviral medication last week based on applications dating from July 2020. The company said it began human testing for its once-daily, oral COVID-19 treatment in February, and that the Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked its review in March.

Enanta requested an unspecified amount of money damages from Pfizer, including royalties. It also said in a statement that it was not asking the court to block Pfizer from selling Paxlovid.

Paxlovid is an oral antiviral pill for high-risk patients that is intended to stave off serious complications from COVID-19. Pfizer said last month it expects to make $22 billion from Paxlovid sales this year.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

A nurse from the Mexican Social Security Institute gives a dose of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to a local resident, as part of a campaign to reach out to people in low-income neighborhoods, in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, Mexico, on April 24, 2022. (ULISES RUIZ / AFP)

Mexico

Mexico has seen a progressive increase in COVID-19 cases in the past nine weeks, but the trend has not translated into a rise in hospital admissions or deaths, Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion Hugo Lopez-Gatell said Tuesday.

The outbreak is currently expanding at a more moderate pace than the fourth wave of infections a few months ago, since it is fueled by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, said Lopez-Gatell.

"This suggests that the population's immunity, either from getting COVID or being vaccinated, or both, is showing results and causing (the variants) to spread slower than the original Omicron variant," he said.

The increase in cases, he stressed, has not carried over to hospitali admissions or deaths.

"We have on average five deaths per day nationwide, which is a markedly lower figure compared to what we experienced during the second wave in particular," he said.

As of Monday, Mexico had accumulated 5,877,837 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 325,417 deaths.

In this June 14, 2021, file photo, a vital of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that is being administered for flight attendants of Japan Airlines at Haneda Airport as the airline company began its workplace vaccination, in Tokyo. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP) 

Moderna

US biotech firm Moderna will build a new research and manufacturing center in Britain to develop vaccines against new COVID-19 variants and other illnesses, the government said on Wednesday.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines, which use messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, were among those deployed in Britain, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailing the roll-out as one of the keys to re-opening England's economy from stringent lockdowns.

Britain's health ministry said that the pandemic had shown mRNA technology as one of the fastest routes to develop new vaccines, and could be applied to other areas, such as cancer, flu, dementia and heart disease.

"Our investment will guarantee jabs in arms against some of the toughest viruses out there, bringing us to the forefront of the fight against future threats," Johnson said in a statement.

A military health personnel carries an empty medical cooler box at a mobile clinic setup for COVID-19 vaccination in Emganwini township, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on 3 Aug 2021. (ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP)

Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday lifted a midnight-to-dawn curfew imposed as part of COVID-19 containment measures.

The number of new COVID-19 cases continued to decrease over the past week while the recovery rate stood at 97 percent, acting Information Minister Jenfan Muswere told a post-cabinet media briefing.

"No patients were admitted to the intensive care unit (over the past week). This indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic remains under control, as it has been for some months now," he said.

The Cabinet stressed that the implementation of all COVID-19 public health and social measures must continue to be strengthened.

Muswere said as of Monday, 55.7 percent of the population had received vaccinations. The Cabinet last week approved the introduction of COVID-19 self-test kits mainly at ports of entry in order to ramp up the country's testing capacity.














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