Connect with us

Business

Britain first to approve Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, rollout starts Monday – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


AstraZeneca’s logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020.

DADO RUVIC/Reuters

British regulators have approved a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca that scientists say will massively boost efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike the vaccines currently in use – made by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna – the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in regular refrigerators, and it has been priced far lower. Scientists say that will make it easier to distribute the vaccine to doctors’ offices, seniors’ homes and throughout developing countries. AstraZeneca said it will produce three billion doses on a not-for-profit basis throughout the pandemic. The company added on Wednesday that it could soon start producing two million doses a week.

The British government has bet heavily on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and ordered 100 million doses, enough to cover 50 million people since it requires two doses. The first batch is set to arrive in the country this week and inoculations will begin on Monday. Initial doses will be given to as many people as possible with the second dose coming up to 12 weeks later.

Story continues below advertisement

The approval was “truly fantastic news – and a triumph for British science,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter Wednesday. “We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

The U.K. has already vaccinated around 800,000 people with the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. But that vaccine must be stored at -70 C, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca drug can be kept in fridges at between 2 and 8 C. It also costs around $5 a dose, compared with $26 for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine and $43 for Moderna’s.

The approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency was announced at a critical moment in the U.K. The country has been struggling with a rampant surge in COVID-19 infections, which scientists believe could be linked to a more contagious variant of the virus that has emerged in recent weeks. That variant has spread to dozens of countries, including Canada, despite bans on British travellers.

COVID-19 news: Updates and essential resources about the pandemic

The number of daily cases in Britain hit a record high of more than 53,000 on Tuesday, and hospital admissions have reached levels not seen since the pandemic began last March. Much of the country has been put under near total lockdown, and on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to announce further restrictions.

“The regulator’s assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group. “Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon as possible.”

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been in development since last January. It uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees but is harmless to humans. Once modified with the genetic sequencing of the spike protein found in COVID-19, the vaccine prompts the human immune system to react.

That’s different from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which involve messenger RNA, or genetic coding, that instructs the vaccinated person’s cells to produce the viral protein, or antigen. That gives the immune system a preview of what the real virus will look like, without causing illness, so it can build defences.

Story continues below advertisement

Approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has taken longer than the other two vaccines because of complications in the testing process.

Initially, the vaccine was supposed to be administered in two full doses, as with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. However, a mistake in the early trials saw only half a dose administered at first, followed by a full second dose. That combination proved to be more effective, yielding 90-per-cent protection as opposed to 62 per cent for the two full doses. By contrast, the two other vaccines showed 95-per-cent efficacy during trials.

The MHRA has approved the two-full-dose regime of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and said that further data from the trials showed that it was 70-per-cent effective after the initial dose. It was 80-per-cent effective after the second dose, the agency added on Wednesday.

Prof. Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the MHRA’s Commission on Human Medicine’s Expert Working Group, said that an analysis of data from the half-dose, full-dose combination found that the results had not been borne out.

June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said data showed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was effective 21 days after the first dose. She added that initial doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech offered enough protection that the second doses could be administered up to three months later.

“The public and everyone who’s listening can be absolutely confident that the scientific rigour of our assessment has been as we would normally do it according to guidelines and standards,” Dr. Raine said. “These are difficult times for so many of us, but vaccines such as this one have the potential to save many lives and will see us come through.”

Story continues below advertisement

Dr. Pirmohamed also said the MHRA was not recommending mixing the vaccines – for example giving an initial dose of one vaccine and a second dose of another – but that studies were under way to see whether that would be possible in future.

Public-health officials and scientists said approving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was a critical moment in the pandemic. “At a time when we see the pandemic accelerating beyond our control, a rapid, efficient vaccination program with good population coverage is our only way out,” said Daniel Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London. “With two vaccines now in the rollout and very substantially more doses, it starts to look realistic that this could be achievable by the spring or early summer.”

How the Oxford-AstraZeneca drug works

16/16

14/14

11/11

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid-19

vaccine can prevent up to 90 per cent of people

contracting coronavirus when it is administered as

a half dose followed by a full dose

at least one month apart

Spike

protein

Spike protein:

Gene is cut from

Sars-CoV-2 genome

Virus

genome

Gene: Inserted into DNA

of adenovirus which acts

as vector in vaccine

Adenovirus:

Unable to

cause disease

Vaccine: Induces spike

protein antigen – triggers

antibody immune response

Antibodies

Human immune

system: Produces

antibodies against

spike proteins

Vaccine: Can be

stored in refrigerator

at 2-8°C. Two doses

of vaccine are

required

graphic news, SOURCE: Reuters; Oxford

Vaccine Trial; University of Oxford

16/16

14/14

11/11

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

can prevent up to 90 per cent of people contracting

coronavirus when it is administered as a half dose

followed by a full dose at least one month apart

Spike

protein

Spike protein:

Gene is cut from

Sars-CoV-2 genome

Virus

genome

Gene: Inserted into DNA

of adenovirus which acts

as vector in vaccine

Adenovirus:

Unable to

cause disease

Vaccine: Induces spike

protein antigen – triggers

antibody immune response

Antibodies

Human immune

system: Produces

antibodies against

spike proteins

Vaccine: Can be

stored in refrigerator

at 2-8°C. Two doses

of vaccine are

required

graphic news, SOURCE: Reuters; Oxford Vaccine Trial;

University of Oxford

18/18

16/16

13/13

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine can prevent

up to 90 per cent of people contracting coronavirus when it is administered

as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart

Spike protein

Adenovirus:

Unable to

cause disease

Virus genome

Spike protein:

Gene is cut from

Sars-CoV-2 genome

Gene: Inserted into DNA

of adenovirus which acts

as vector in vaccine

Antibodies

Vaccine: Induces spike

protein antigen – triggers

antibody immune response

Human immune

system: Produces

antibodies against

spike proteins

Vaccine: Can be

stored in refrigerator

at 2-8°C. Two doses

of vaccine are required

graphic news, SOURCE: Reuters; Oxford Vaccine Trial; University of Oxford


The initial COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada and around the world raise questions about how people react to the shot, how pregnant women should approach it and how far away herd immunity may be. Globe health reporter Kelly Grant and science reporter Ivan Semeniuk discuss the answers. The Globe and Mail

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

B.C. faces tough choices as near-term Pfizer vaccine shipments cut in half – Global News

Published

 on


British Columbia health officials are working to determine how to prioritize who gets a COVID-19 immunization, amid a reduction in shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine they admit will have a significant effect.

Pfizer has announced a temporary delay in shipments of the vaccine as it scales up its European production centre.

Read more:
‘Temporary delay’ chops Canada’s deliveries of Pfizer vaccine in half for four weeks

That means that the 50,000-dose shipment British Columbia was expecting in February will be slashed in half.


Click to play video 'Ottawa reassures Canadians after announcement of COVID-19 vaccine delay'



2:09
Ottawa reassures Canadians after announcement of COVID-19 vaccine delay


Ottawa reassures Canadians after announcement of COVID-19 vaccine delay

“In some sectors the delivery will be delayed and that is just the reality we face,” Dix told Global News on Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

“What it will really affect is the February and March period … it obviously impacts the priority groups and second doses as well.”

Read more:
Pfizer vaccine delay a ‘blow,’ will affect Alberta’s vaccine schedule: health minister

Dix added that there was no interruption in the supply of the Moderna vaccine, and that the delay would have little effect on Pfizer shipments next week.


Click to play video 'Focus BC: Vaccine rollout, long term care strategy during the pandemic'



23:52
Focus BC: Vaccine rollout, long term care strategy during the pandemic


Focus BC: Vaccine rollout, long term care strategy during the pandemic

In an interview with Global’s Focus BC, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said her team was working to determine who will and won’t get their shot in that time period.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Officials must weigh whether to skip some front-line workers who are still waiting for their shot, or to extend the time period between when each person receives their first and second dose.

Story continues below advertisement

Pfizer guidelines call for the doses to be administered 21 days apart, while Canada’s vaccine advisory committee has recommended vaccines be given a maximum of 42 days after the first.

Quebec is considering spreading the doses by as many as 90 days.

Read more:
Coronavirus: New vaccine appointments paused in Manitoba as Pfizer announces delay

“People need to be reassured that even after 48 days and longer, it does not just drop off dramatically,” Henry said.

“We will look at how much vaccine is coming in, how many people are due to get their vaccine in that week (when) we will have less, and then we will have to make decisions on we have to optimize who gets vaccine at that time.”


Click to play video 'How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered'



10:45
How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered


How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered

Henry said the silver lining of the temporary delay in doses was that the work Pfizer is doing at its plant will allow it to produce more vaccine down the road, some of which will come to British Columbia.

Story continues below advertisement

As of Friday, B.C. had given at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to nearly 76,000 people.

The province has concentrated distribution of its first doses of vaccine to front-line health-care workers, those working and living in long-term care facilities and First Nations communities.

Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday the issues at Pfizer’s Belgium plant would result in an be an “unfortunate” situation where Canada would see its expected shipment of vaccine in February cut in half.

— With files from Richard Zussman and the Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Pfizer delays delivery of COVID-19 vaccines – CityNews Toronto

Published

 on


[unable to retrieve full-text content]

  1. Pfizer delays delivery of COVID-19 vaccines  CityNews Toronto
  2. Pfizer to temporarily reduce vaccine deliveries to Canada, minister says  CBC.ca
  3. Pfizer is cutting shipments to Canada | How will the COVID-19 vaccination strategy be impacted?  CTV News
  4. Americans need COVID-19 vaccinations now — here’s how Biden can ramp up the process | TheHill  The Hill
  5. 39 active COVID-19 cases in Medicine Hat, 5000th recovery in South Zone  CHAT News Today
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Couche-Tard drops bid to take over Carrefour: sources – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard has dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($24.9 billion Cdn) bid to acquire European retailer Carrefour SA after the takeover plan ran into stiff opposition from the French government, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The decision to end merger talks came after a meeting on Friday between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Couche-Tard’s founder and chairman, Alain Bouchard, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is confidential.

Couche-Tard and Carrefour declined to comment.

Earlier on Friday, France ruled out any sale of grocer Carrefour on food security grounds, prompting the Canadian firm and its allies to mount a last-ditch attempt to salvage the deal.

“Food security is strategic for our country so that’s why we don’t sell a big French retailer,” Le Maire said. “My answer is extremely clear: we are not in favour of the deal. The no is polite, but it’s a clear and final no.”

Couche-Tard was hoping to win France’s blessing by offering commitments on jobs and France’s food supply chain as well as keeping the merged entity listed in both Paris and Toronto, with Carrefour boss Alexandre Bompard and his Couche-Tard counterpart Brian Hannasch leading it as co-CEOs, one of the sources said.

The plan also included a commitment to keep the new entity’s global strategic operations in France and having French nationals on its board, he said.

Couche-Tard was also going to pump in 3 billion euros of investments to the French retailer — a plan that was widely backed by Carrefour, which employs 105,000 workers in France, its largest market, making it France’s biggest private-sector employer.

Criticism of foreign investment strategy

The French move, with ministers shooting down the offer less than 24 hours after talks were confirmed, sparked disquiet in some business circles over how French President Emmanuel Macron decides which foreign investment is welcome and which is not.

Some politicians and bankers said the push-back could tarnish Macron’s pro-business image while others highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis had forced more than one country to redefine its strategic national interests.

The comments sparked a trans-Atlantic flurry of lobbying and Couche-Tard’s Bouchard flew to Paris to explain the merits of the deal to Le Maire, the source said.

Bouchard said the finance minister reiterated his opposition without listening to the terms of the transaction.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked about the prospects for a deal, said he would always be there to help Canadian firms succeed internationally and said he spoke this week with Macron.

One of France’s biggest employers

Along with other retailers, Carrefour, with roughly a fifth of France’s groceries market, played a major role in ensuring smooth food supplies as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

A woman pushes her full shopping cart as she leaves a Carrefour supermarket in Drancy, France, on April 15, during the 30th day of a strict COVID-19 lockdown. (Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images)

The country has tightened takeover rules to protect French companies deemed strategic, including under the presidency of Macron, who will face a presidential election in 2022.

During the pandemic, Macron has ramped up calls to protect French sovereignty in areas such as health care and industry, although the former investment banker has tried to strike a balance with a business-friendly approach.

Couche-Tard made a non-binding offer on Wednesday for the French grocery group, largely in cash.

A source familiar with the discussions told Reuters that 20 euros per share was not enough but was a starting point for discussions. Initial contact between the two companies came at the end of last year and Couche-Tard sent its first letter in early January, the source said.

Carrefour acknowledged Couche-Tard’s approach to discuss a combination on Wednesday.

A Couche-Tard convenience store is shown in Montreal. The company’s non-binding offer for Carrefour was made largely in cash. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending