The global rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine faces more difficulties

(Reuters) – The rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, much of the world’s disease, depends on defeating the epidemic, with India suspending vaccine exports on Thursday and Europe discussing its own export restrictions.

India has temporarily seized all major vaccine exports from the Anglo-Swedish company’s India Serum Institute (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, to meet growing domestic demand for the infection, two sources said.

This could delay the supply of dozens of low-income countries relying on SII production under the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme backed by the World Health Organization.

“We understand that the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to low-income economies participating in the COVAX facility will be delayed …” UNICEF, the program’s procurement and distribution partner, told Reuters.

The move by India comes at a meeting of the European Union on Thursday, with member states considering giving more scope to vaccines exported outside the bloc, most of which are struggling to reduce infections and advance the vaccination campaign.

The proposal would apply to all vaccines, including AstraZeneca, based on which the EU would basically meet its target of 70% inoculation of its adult population by this summer.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is seen as crucial in epidemic control because it is cheaper and easier to transport than many rival shots.

The European Union (EU) has accused a drug manufacturer of selling its vaccine and unfairly favoring Britain, where AstraZeneca had developed a scuffle with Oxford University – a charge denied by the company.

Brussels agreed on a “win-win” solution with London this week, but even if the EU resists export restrictions it faces another problem: confidence in the AstraZeneca shot is declining due to concerns about side effects and effectiveness data.

The use of the Denmark vaccine will be postponed for the remaining three weeks for further investigation into a possible link between blood and blood clots, Danish broadcaster TV2 quoted sources as saying on Thursday.

More than 10 other countries have postponed vaccine rollouts due to similar concerns but most have resumed. The European Medicines Agency said last week that it is safe and is not linked to an increase in the overall risk of blood clots.

However, many Europeans remain cautious.

A third of Danes will refuse the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to a survey published Wednesday by Danish media. Confidence has also been hit hard in Spain, Germany, France and Italy.

File photo: The logo for AstraZeneca is seen at its North American headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, USA, March 22, 2021. Reuters / Rachel Wisniewski

AstraZeneca has its U.S. In a new analysis of the trial, the effectiveness of the vaccine improved by 76%. Interim data released Monday show the vaccine’s effectiveness rate was 79%, but did not include recent infections, leading to public outcry from U.S. health officials.

Awaiting U.S. regulatory approval, AstraZeneca also reiterated that Schwart was 100% effective against severe or critical forms of COVID-19.

“The effectiveness of the vaccine against serious diseases, including death, puts the AZ vaccine in a kindergarten like any other vaccine,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, adding that he expects US approval. .

The vaccine has already been approved for conditional marketing or emergency use in more than 70 countries.

In Europe, leaders from France and Germany on Thursday acknowledged that the problem of slow vaccine rollouts within the EU went beyond the question of whether to control exports.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU leaders would also discuss how to boost domestic production of the vaccine.

“British manufacturing sites produce for Britain and the United States is not exporting, so it depends on what we can build in Europe,” he told German lawmakers.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU should take the blame for itself – that its vaccine plans lacked ambition.

“We did not shoot for the stars,” he told the Greek television channel ERT. “That should be a lesson for all of us.”

Written by Mark Bendich. Edited by Mark Potter