The global caseload of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is close to 88 million, while nearly 1.9 million people have succumbed to the infection, the Johns Hopkins University tracker shows. Immunisation drives are currently underway in several countries, with most countries having cleared the vaccine of America’s Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE, as well as that of Moderna, another American firm. The vaccine developed by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, in collaboration with Oxford University, too, has been granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) by several countries.
Here are some latest updates on the Covid-19 vaccination front:
1. A second pan-India dry run will be carried out on Friday, after the first phase was conducted on January 2. The first vaccination dry run of any kind in India was carried out on December 28 and 29 across four states: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab. India has granted EUA to AstraZeneca-Oxford University’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech International Limited’s Covaxin. The vaccines are likely to be rolled out across the country next week.
2. Officials in Brazil, the world’s third worst-hit country, on Thursday announced that the vaccine candidate developed by China’s Sinovac was found 78% effective in a late-stage trial in the South American nation. Officials further said detailed results will be submitted to the country’s health regulator, Anvisa, to seek EUA for the vaccine. Brazil is yet to clear a vaccine against Covid-19.
3. Spain’s health minister Salvador Illa on Thursday said the country will receive its first batch of Moderna’s vaccine in the next seven-10 days. In the coming six weeks, Illa said, Spain will receive 600,000 doses of the vaccine. Spain has already authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and has distributed 744,000 doses thus far.
4. South Africa, the worst-affected country in Africa, will procure 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for its health workers, its government announced on Thursday.The first 1 million doses will be delivered later this month, with the next 500,000 to arrive in February, health minister Zwelini Mkhize said. This will also be South Africa’s first purchase of a Covid-19 vaccine.
5. America’s Novavax Inc disclosed in a regulatory filing on Thursday an advanced agreement had been signed by Australia to purchase 51 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine. Australia can purchase up to an additional 10 million doses, with the initial delivery expected by mid-2021, the company said.
6. Mexico’s government on Thursday said it had sent two top officials, including the country’s deputy health minister, to Argentina for “urgent discussions” over Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. Argentina rolled out the vaccine on December 29. Mexico, on the other hand, has rolled out Pfizer’s vaccine. Both countries have also authorised the AstraZeneca vaccine.
(With agency inputs)