Rich nations have cornered half of future Covid-19 vaccine supply: Oxfam

Andrew Cummings
September 18, 2020

President Trump on Wednesday again said widespread distribution of a vaccine against the coronavirus would happen before the end of the year, directly contradicting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. These vaccines are now being tested by companies such as Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca PLC and Moderna Inc. "We don't know the timing of when we'll have a vaccine, we don't know the quantities, we don't know the efficacy of those vaccines", said Paul Mango, the deputy chief of staff for policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Large-scale trials, known as Phase III, involving at least 40,000 people, were launched in Russian Federation on August 26 but have yet to be completed. In the AP poll, 1 in 5 Americans said they would not get a coronavirus vaccine, and 31% said they were unsure. "We're going to have a vaccine in a matter of weeks, it could be four weeks, it could be eight weeks", Trump told Fox News this week, adding that it "could be" before the election, and that "we'll start delivering it immediately upon getting it".

Press secretary Arseniy Palagin confirmed the 100 million doses of the experimental vaccine were meant for "population wide use" as long as they met regulatory requirements and clinical trials were successful. I've been doing clinical trials for decades. Almost half already have received a second dose.

Public health officials have said that approving a vaccine for widespread use based on a small number of cases would not offer enough safety information to show how the vaccine would perform. Redfield told a congressional hearing that health care workers, first responders and others at high risk would get the vaccine first, perhaps in January or even late this year, but it was unlikely to be available more broadly, again assuming approval, before late spring or summer. China is testing its vaccine candidates in countries including Pakistan in return for promising to supply significant doses to protect at least some of the most vulnerable.

Countries are collaborating to develop a vaccine.

If the vaccine turns out to be a more modest 60 per cent effective, the trial might have to proceed to the final efficacy readout in order to generate clear results, according to Moderna's 135-page trial protocol. Moving more quickly through the trial process also means a drugmaker could miss potential side effects that could materialize if trials were given more time.

"These interim analyses have a flashing sign of short cuts", said Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. Otherwise, "it puts you in a very precarious situation to rebound".

Pune-based Serum Institute of India and Hyderabad-based Biological-E are the two other Indian companies that have tied up with vaccine developers; Oxford-AstraZeneca and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV ("Janssen"), one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, respectively, for domestic production of their vaccines.

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