Covid: Vaccines remain the number one weapon to control the epidemic

Posted on Nov 17, 2021, 6:22 PMUpdated Nov 17, 2021, 7:03 PM

While antivirals and antibodies provide new weapons for treating Covid patients, vaccines, by preventing disease, remain the primary instrument to prevent the pandemic from once again overwhelming hospital systems. Developing access to vaccines everywhere in the world therefore remains a priority.

The American health authorities announced on Wednesday that they wanted to produce 1 billion more doses of messenger RNA vaccines each year, from 2022, “for the current pandemic” and in order to be able “to react quickly to any future pandemic threats” . According to the “New York Times”, the Biden administration will, to do this, allocate funds to vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer and Moderna. Joe Biden also pledged to donate at least 1.1 billion doses next year to poor countries.

Vaccines that are long overdue

New vaccines are long overdue. That of the American biotech Novavax, of which Europe has ordered 200 million doses, has obtained its first marketing authorization from Indonesia. The UK could be the next country to allow it. His file is currently being examined by the British agency. Novavax should then submit a dossier to the US authorities before the end of the year.

French biotech Valneva is watching for the green light from the European Agency. It signed a 60 million dose contract with the European Union last week, deliverable over two years, subject to authorization.

Indian vaccine

Another anti-Covid vaccine has joined the vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, J&J, Sinopharm and Sinovac on the WHO list. This is Covaxin, the first vaccine against Covid developed in India, by the company Bharat Biotech. It is “very effective in adults”, and it is also “well tolerated” and without noticeable serious side effects, according to a study published last Thursday in “The Lancet”. The WHO, which had already had access to this study, had approved this vaccine a few days earlier for poor countries.

AstraZeneca, whose vaccine has had a chaotic journey since its authorization in December 2020, had pledged to offer it at cost during the pandemic. The laboratory plans to return to a profitable marketing method when new orders are placed. The product will nevertheless remain at cost price for poor countries. According to the group’s boss, Pascal Soriot, it will never be a major source of profit anyway.

Rare side effects

Over time and their large-scale administration, we learn more about vaccines against Covid, their effectiveness and possible side effects which remain rare.

Moderna’s vaccine is thus associated with an excess of pericarditis leading health authorities in several European countries to suspend its use in adults under 30 years of age. The company, anxious to preserve the trust capital of its vaccine, has taken the subject very seriously. She does not deny a higher than normal number of cases, but specifies that this mainly concerns men.

For its part, at the request of the European Medicines Agency, J & J will have to mention on the leaflet of the side effects attributed to its vaccine, the risk of transverse myelitis, a rare type of inflammation of the spinal cord.

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