Friday, April 16, 2021

Oxford vaccine crisis creates delays in the European Union’s immunization campaign – Prime Time Zone

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The bloc is blaming the lack of deliveries by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca; in France, doses of the immunizer are stranded amid fears caused by cases of thrombosis

EFE / EPA / ANTONIO BAT
The European Union has bought vaccines from several pharmaceutical companies, but its immunization campaign is still delayed

The person responsible for the vaccination against Covid-19 on European Union, Thierry Breton, attributed to the Swedish-British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca the blame of the bloc for failing to fulfill its goal of inoculating 80% of the elderly by the end of March. In an interview with the French newspaper Le Parisien, the commissioner said that the 27 member countries would be on the same level as the United Kingdom in terms of immunization if they had received all the Oxford vaccines contracted. “I can say that the turbulence we are experiencing is due exclusively to AstraZeneca’s failure to deliver. In the first quarter, AstraZeneca delivered only a quarter of the doses we ordered, while the British received them all, although our contract was signed before them, in August 2020 ”, he defended. The UK denied that claim, saying the drugmaker also failed to live up to its commitments to the British government. However, it is undeniable that the country’s vaccination campaign is more advanced than that of the European Union. Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention released on Monday, 5, indicate that in the bloc countries an average of 59.8% of elderly people aged 80 and over received at least the first dose of the vaccine. Already in England, no Wales and on Scotland, this same index is above 98%.

In fact, the delay in the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 of the European Union was not caused by the lack of purchase of immunizers. The bloc spent more than two billion euros to close deals with six different laboratories, which guarantee a total of 1.1 billion doses, with the option of acquiring another 500 million in the future. Besides the AstraZenecaOxford University, member countries are already using vaccines from PfizerBioNTech and yes Modern, and the first doses of Johnson & Johnson must arrive from April 19th. Units from Curevac and Sanofi, which have not yet requested European Union emergency use authorization. However, delays in the delivery of the Oxford vaccine have caused a significant gap: so far, AstraZeneca has delivered only 30 million of the 90 million doses that had been promised for the first quarter of 2021. In addition, the pharmaceutical company has already warned that, in the second quarter, it will supply only 70 million, instead of the 180 million initially foreseen in the sales contract.

Mistrust of the population also causes delays in the campaign

The person responsible for the vaccine strategy of European Medicines Agency (EMA), Marco Cavalieri, admitted on Tuesday, 6, the existence of a relationship between the use of the Oxford vaccine and a larger than expected number of cases of thrombosis with platelet deficiency among adults. The statement, made in an interview with the Italian newspaper The messenger, it happens right after Germany, Canada and the Netherlands stated that they will not use the AstraZeneca product in adults, which seems to be the age group in which the problem is most recurrent. These decisions have created confusion in some European Union countries about how to proceed with the application of the second dose to people who have received the first injection of AstraZeneca and are now no longer qualified in terms of the new laws. Many authorities are considering mixing different immunizers, something about which there are no studies.

Amid so many uncertainties, several people are choosing not to receive the Oxford vaccine. A good example of this is the France, where vaccination sites in the north of the country were left with hundreds of doses of AstraZeneca stranded last weekend and closed their doors ahead of schedule due to lack of interested parties. The city of Calais, in particular, had 550 doses of the Oxford vaccine available and only 70 appointments scheduled for the next few days. Meanwhile, vacancies to receive Pfizer-BioNTech immunizers disappear in a few minutes. To try to get around the situation and increase security over the vaccine, the French Prime Minister Jean Castex received the AstraZeneca immunizer in front of the cameras, something that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel also intends to do.

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