Feb 19, 2021 News
– as WHO gives emergency approval
Kaieteur News – Guyana is one step closer to receiving its quota of vaccines expected to be donated by the COVID -19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, due to the World Health Organization (WHO) issuing emergency approval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, as a part of its initiative under COVAX to ensure equitable access to the vaccines among developing nations.
“The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as co-leads of the COVAX initiative for equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF, are pleased to welcome the news that two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine have been given WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL),” COVAX announced in a statement.
Two versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is produced by AstraZeneca-SK Bioscience (AZ-SKBio) and the Serum Institute of India (AZ-SII), are now available for global rollout through the COVAX Facility.
Guyana is set to receive vaccines for 20 percent of its population from COVAX and frontline health workers, the elderly and persons with comorbidities are being given first preference by the government. Approximately 104,000 vaccine doses will be donated by the facility.
In a statement, COVAX said it anticipates the first round of deliveries taking place in March, with some early shipments being sent in late February, to countries that would have fulfilled their criteria. “Due the high number of doses available, as well as the high number of countries getting ready for delivery in Q1 2021, the capacity of supplier and freight forwarders will be under considerable pressure. Shipment timelines will be impacted by logistical preparedness and delivery lead times, which may vary depending on the location of the receiving participant,” COVAX also said.
Further, the Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, Dr. Mariângela Simão stated that “Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the Covax facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” in a statement on Monday.
Like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was also given emergency use approval by the WHO, the AstraZeneca vaccine is less expensive and easier to widely distribute, since it can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, unlike the Pfizer doses.
The WHO would have said last week that the AstraZeneca shot should be given even in countries where other variants of the coronavirus are dominant, after South Africa decided not to roll out the vaccine due to the new variants potentially minimalizing the effect of the vaccine against that the new variant detected there.
Additionally, the team behind the AstraZeneca vaccine said earlier in February that an updated version could be ready by fall, this year, and will hold the capacity to address the emerging variants of the virus.
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