Third coronavirus vaccine registered in Russia
The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation has registered the vaccine against COVID-19 "KoviVac", created at the Federal Scientific Center for Research and Development of Immunobiological Preparations named after V. I. M. P. Chumakova of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This was announced on February 20 by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. According to him, the first 127 thousand doses of the drug will go into civilian circulation in mid-March. The developer also plans to expand into international markets.
"KoviVac", in contrast to the drugs "Sputnik V" and "EpiVacCorona", is a whole-virion vaccine. “This means that the virus is grown in cell culture, accumulates in significant quantities, is concentrated, and is inactivated by a special substance so that these virions cannot multiply,” explained virologist Anatoly Altshtein, MD, in a commentary to 360tv. There is no consensus yet on the safety of whole-virion vaccines, Altstein said, and it can be difficult to produce such drugs on a large scale.
As of February 20, 11.1 million sets of doses of COVID-19 vaccines have already been produced in Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said at a meeting on vaccines for the prevention of coronavirus. And the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin said that more than 4 thousand coronavirus vaccination points have already been opened in the regions of the Russian Federation. He noted that mobile posts have been organized in remote places, and special transport has been allocated, which brings people there. According to unofficial data, more than 2.2 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Russian Federation.
At the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry sent a note to all foreign embassies with a proposal to vaccinate their employees against coronavirus, Kommersant reported on February 19. We can talk about the vaccination of 12 thousand diplomats and their family members. This information was confirmed to the newspaper in a number of embassies and in the ministry itself. The embassies of the CIS, Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to Kommersant, have already begun to send employees for vaccinations. Representatives of most of the diplomatic missions of the EU member states recommend their diplomats to wait for the registration of Russian vaccines by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
In turn, on February 20, Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov announced that he had been vaccinated with the American vaccine against coronavirus. “A week ago I gave the Modern vaccine and in four weeks I will give the second injection. By doing so, I just want to emphasize that we are not politicizing the vaccine problem. If the country has a good vaccine, an opportunity to preserve one's health, we must use it,”Antonov said on the air of the YouTube channel“Soloviev Live”.
Africa remains without vaccines for COVID-19
In total, about 200 million doses of various vaccines have been used to vaccinate against coronavirus in the world. Almost half of them (45%) are in the G7 countries (Great Britain, Germany, USA, Canada, Italy, France, Japan). At the same time, 92% of these doses were received by residents of countries with a high per capita income or with an income above average (according to the World Bank calculation method).
The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Japan have already secured more than 3 billion doses of vaccine to date, according to a report by the ONE Campaign, an organization for the fight against poverty and preventable diseases - more than a billion more doses needed to vaccination of the entire population of these countries. According to the organization's experts, if the United States and Britain do not share excess doses, billions of people will be left without the necessary protection, which, in turn, will prolong the pandemic.
Vaccination rates in Africa, meanwhile, are among the lowest in the world, with most countries on the continent not even starting a vaccination campaign. “It is very unfair that the most vulnerable people in Africa have to wait for the vaccine, while in other countries those who are not at risk are getting vaccinated,” said Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa on February 20.
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron offered to share the vaccine with African countries to the rich countries of Europe and the United States. African countries also hope to obtain vaccines through international and regional schemes. One such scheme is the Covax initiative (a global mechanism for ensuring the availability of vaccines against COVID-19), which brings together more than 170 countries around the world.
The WHO expects African countries to begin receiving the vaccine through the Covax initiative as early as late February 2021. But the first 90 million doses of the vaccine are enough to vaccinate only 3% of the continent's population. These will include the main risk groups, primarily health workers. By the end of 2021, through Covax, Africa is expected to receive an additional 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate 20% of the continent's population. After the completion of the WHO certification process for the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, it will be included in the number of vaccines distributed under the COVAX program.
South Africa, Africa's worst-hit country in the pandemic, launched a vaccination campaign on February 17, but halted it almost immediately over doubts about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is the first batch of a generic drug of this drug, which is produced in India under the name CoviShield (from the English words COVID and Shield - shield), which is expected on February 23 in Kiev.
Ukraine is waiting for the Indian "shield" from the coronavirus
On Sunday, February 21, Ukrainian Health Minister Maxim Stepanov, who personally flew to India for the CoviShield vaccine, posted a video from a manufacturing plant in the Indian city of Pune. “The vaccine is now being transported to Mumbai. Further - a long journey by cargo plane with a stop in Istanbul, and one of these days the vaccine will arrive in Ukraine. During transportation, all temperature requirements will be met, which are necessary to maintain the quality of vaccines,”Stepanov said.
And the next day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the CoviShield vaccine is "one of the best" today. At the same time, the Office of the President has composed new "temniks" for deputies from the "Servant of the People" faction, which praises CoviShield. Bankova's key argument in favor of this drug looks like this: Brazil has already purchased the vaccine, do you really put yourself above the Brazilians, allowing yourself not to trust the drug? “If our politicians love to relax in the Maldives and Seychelles so much, then it is very strange that they consider these countries to be something worse than Ukraine and that they received an allegedly bad vaccine for the poor,” the authors of the document list the key lines of criticism of the Indian vaccine.
At the same time, according to the chairman of the National Medical Chamber of Ukraine, Serhiy Kravchenko, “the minister is bringing a vaccine to Ukraine that cannot yet be imported, it is impossible to register and use in the vaccination of Ukrainian citizens before the inspection of the manufacturing plant and confirmation of the national GMP certification” (GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practice, an international standard containing norms for the production of certain types of products, in particular drugs).
The fact is that the producer of CoviShield, the Indian Institute of Whey, expired about a year and a half ago, the Ukrainian national GMP certificate. Only last week the institute presented the necessary documents to the Ukrainian regulator. Kravchenko argues that the process of certifying that the Indian Whey Institute meets the GMP standard will take at least three weeks "under perfect circumstances." At the same time, the Kiev authorities expect to receive the first vaccinations on the day of the arrival of the Indian vaccine.
Australia vaccination campaign faced protests
On Sunday, February 21, Australian residents began to vaccinate against the coronavirus with the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. So far, a small group of the population has been vaccinated. The first to be vaccinated was 84-year-old Jane Malisiac, after which Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the country's chief sanitary officer Paul Kelly received the vaccine. The moment when the prime minister was vaccinated against the coronavirus was shown on television.
The prime minister called on Australians to follow his example, he called the vaccine safe. Mass vaccination in Australia started on 22 February. At the first stage, employees of hospitals and medical services, border guards and quarantine hotels, nursing homes, boarding schools for the elderly and disabled will be vaccinated. It is expected that 60 thousand people will be vaccinated within a week. In total, the Australian authorities have ordered more than 150 million doses of vaccines. The country has approved the use of Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines. The authorities expect to vaccinate most of the population by October 2021.
At the same time, on February 22, during the ceremony of awarding the winner of the Australian Open in tennis, many fans in the stands made disapproving noise at the mention of the vaccination campaign. This year, this Grand Slam tournament was held with a very limited number of spectators, and many top players did not attend at all due to restrictions. Speaking at the awards ceremony, one of the organizers of the tournament said that the appearance of the vaccine instills optimism and belief that everything will soon return to normal.
In general, the vaccination campaign was approved by the majority of people in Australia, but last Saturday in a number of large cities, including Melbourne and Sydney, there were a few rallies against vaccinations. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack called the behavior of Australian fans abhorrent. According to him, the vaccine will help the country to return to normal life, and it is unworthy to boo anything at all.