Wednesday, August 12, 2020 01:50:59 AM
Reuters: The United States has secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine by pledging up to $1.2 billion, as world powers scramble for medicines to get their economies back to work.
While not yet proven to be effective against the coronavirus, vaccines are seen by world leaders as the only real way to restart their stalled economies, and even to get an edge over global competitors.
After President Donald Trump demanded a vaccine, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed to provide up to $1.2 billion to accelerate British drugmaker AstraZeneca's vaccine development and secure 300 million doses for the United States.
"This contract with AstraZeneca is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed's work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021," US Health Secretary Alex Azar said. The first doses could be available in the United States as early as October, according to a statement from HHS.
The vaccine, previously known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and now as AZD1222, was developed by the University of Oxford and licensed to AstraZeneca. Immunity to the new coronavirus is uncertain and so the use of vaccines is unclear.
The US deal allows a late-stage, or Phase III, clinical trial of the vaccine with 30,000 people in the United States.
Cambridge, England-based AstraZeneca said it had concluded agreements for at least 400 million doses of the vaccine and secured manufacturing capacity for 1 billion doses, with first deliveries due to begin in September.
Now the most valuable company on Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 Index, AstraZeneca has already agreed to deliver 100 million doses to people in Britain, with 30 million as soon as September. Ministers have promised Britain will get first access to the vaccine.
With leaders across the world surveying some of the worst economic destruction since at least World War Two and the deaths of more than 327,000 people, many are scrambling Johnson (J&J), Moderna and Sanofi, sparking fears the richest countries will be able to protect their citizens first.
Sanofi's chief angered the French government earlier this month when he said vaccine doses produced in the United States could go to US patients first, given the country had supported the research financially.
"We have a lot of things happening on the vaccine front or the therapeutic front," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the AstraZenca announcement. "You're going to have a lot of big announcements over the next week or two" on therapeutics.
Trump, during a Thursday visit to a Ford Motor Co plant in Michigan, said the US military is "in gear so we can give out 150 to 250 million shots quickly."
AstraZeneca said it was in talks with governments and partners around the world - such as the Serum Institute of India - to increase access and production and is speaking to various organisations on fair allocation and distribution.
"We would like to thank the US and UK governments for their substantial support to accelerate the development and production of the vaccine," AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said.
The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest maker of vaccines by volume, has dedicated one of its facilities with a capacity to produce up to 400 million doses annually to producing the Oxford vaccine.
"We are scaling up on a conservative basis of about 4 to 5 million doses a month to begin with," Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla told Reuters, adding the company was in discussions with AstraZeneca.
A Phase I/II clinical trial of AZD1222 began last month to assess safety, immunogenicity and efficacy in over 1,000 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 across several trial centres in southern England. Data from the trial is expected shortly.
There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.
Governments, drugmakers and researchers are working on around 100 programmes. Experts are predicting a safe, effective means of preventing the disease could take 12 to 18 months to develop.
Only a handful of the vaccines in development have advanced to human trials, an indicator of safety and efficacy, and the stage at which most fail.
"AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk," it said.
Other drugmakers including Pfizer Inc, J&J and Sanofi are in various stages of vaccine development.
US-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday its experimental vaccine produced protective antibodies and immune system responses in mice and guinea pigs.
And Moderna this week released positive data for its potential vaccine, which it said produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers.
MEDIA report said that the government has taken a move to rein in the soaring cost of development projects and the Planning Minister is going to hold a meeting with Secretaries of the Development Ministries and Planning Commission officials to find out ways how to plug corruption and misuse of ...
Al Jazeera News :Taiwan faces an increasingly difficult position as China pressures the democratic island to accept conditions that would turn it into the next Hong Kong, its top diplomat told visiting US Health Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday.Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday as the highest-level US official to ...
Reuters, Nkara : Turkey will issue seismic exploration and drilling licenses in new areas of the eastern Mediterranean by the end of August and continue its operations in the region, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, amid tensions with Greece.NATO allies Turkey and Greece are at odds over overlapping claims ...
Indian High Commissioner here Riva Ganguly Das on Tuesday said excellent India-Bangladesh bilateral relations and recent connectivity initiatives in railways and inland waterways created new business opportunities as these reduced trade cost between the two neighbouring countries."With resilient economies and robust business environment, both the countries will not only be ...
Business Desk :Emirates has rolled out a brand new, state-of-the-art online gateway to serve its travel trade partners around the world.Tailored for each market, and personalised for each partner to cater to their unique business environment and needs, the Emirates Partners Portal is a one-stop shop for travel industry partners ...
Borussia Dortmund are flexing their muscles in their efforts to keep England forward Jadon Sancho at the club.In the club's pre-season training-camp in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland, the 2012 German Champions sporting director Michael Zorc announced the surprising news."We plan on having Jadon Sancho in our team this season," Zorc commented. ...
AFP, Asuncion :Brazil great Ronaldinho could be freed on August 24 following five months detention in Paraguay over a forged passport, judicial sources told AFP on Monday.The former Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain star was detained alongside his brother Roberto de Assis Moreira on March 6, accused of entering ...
COTTAGE and micro-industry entrepreneurs are not getting loans from the government's Tk 20,000 crore stimulus package, while banks are disbursing most of the loans to medium industries. As a result, many cottage and micro-industries are on the verge of permanently shutting down as they have no working capital to survive. ...
AP :Last week's Beirut blast destroyed the 160-year-old landmark Sursock Palace, one of the most storied buildings in the Lebanese capital which withstood two world wars, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the French mandate and Lebanese independence.After the country's 1975-1990 civil war, it took 20 years of careful restoration ...
AT LEAST 17 people were killed in four separate road mishaps in Mymensingh, Chuadanga, Narayanganj and Manikganj on Friday. During the Eid rush of travelling home and back, 242 people were killed and 331 injured in 201 road accidents across the country. Road accident is everyday tragedy for Bangladesh as ...
AP, Lexington :Serena Williams flexed and then kissed a sinewy right bicep to show down time well spent in training even without bench pressing."This is God given, thank you very much," the 23-time Grand Slam champion said as she thanked her mother, Oracene.Williams now looks to flex her muscles on ...