Experts Rally to Speed Up Vaccination Around the World
A roundup of the most important Covid-19 vaccine news this week
There are now 20 vaccines in Phase 3 trials, seven approved for limited use, and three approved for full use in some countries after fully completing Phase 3 trials: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca (in the U.K. only).
The U.K. gets creative with its dosage guidelines
The new year is not off to a great start. Vaccine rollout has been slow in many parts of the world (Connecticut is a fortunate outlier), and one emergent mutant strain known as B117 is more contagious, though it does not seem to cause more severe disease. In the U.K., where cases are skyrocketing, the B117 variant is spreading, and vaccine rollout has been sluggish, health officials recently made two controversial changes to the dosing guidelines. One allows for a delay in the timing of the second dose, and the other allows for mixing-and-matching vaccines between the first and second dose. The U.K. has currently approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca.
Leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD, has said that the U.S. would not delay the second dose of the vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say that the vaccines are not interchangeable. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. will not also have to get creative: As a New York Times analysis pointed out, concerns about vaccine shortages are leading experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to consider other ways to stretch the vaccine supply, like using syringes that can extract an extra dose and cutting doses in half.
China’s Sinovac vaccine gets the green light from Brazil
On Thursday, researchers in Brazil announced that their late-stage trial of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine was 78% effective, Reuters reported. The trial, which began in July, enrolled around 13,000 volunteers; of 218 Covid-19 cases that occurred in this group, over 160 occurred in people who received a placebo. Not much else is known about the study beyond these details, leading some scientists to express criticism about the transparency of the…