Although wealthy countries complain about slow delivery times for the vaccines they have ordered, many developing countries do not get any for several months, warned philanthropist Bill Gates.
High-stakes clash between EU and vaccine maker AstraZeneca intensified on Wednesday as EU officials accused the company of withdrawing from a scheduled meeting which was to discuss cuts in its supply.
Dana Spinant, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, the executive branch of the bloc, said AstraZeneca had canceled its meeting scheduled for Wednesday with the health steering group. A spokesman for the company later denied that AstraZeneca withdrew from the talks.
“We can confirm that we will participate in the EU negotiations,” spokeswoman Jenny Hursit said in an email. It is “not correct to say that we are pulled out,” she said.
AztraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, said last week that production delays would limit the number of doses delivered to EU nations, leading to a setback from European leaders threatening the company with lawsuits. Officials this week intensified pressure on pharmaceutical companies operating in the EU, saying vaccine manufacturers liked stricter export controls.
Both AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech have said that reduced production capacity could lead to delivery disruptions.
On Wednesday, however, the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi announced that it would produce rival BioNTech’s vaccine to manufacture the 125 million vaccine doses allocated to the EU.
The public ghost came in stark contrast to Biden’s promise that another 200 million doses of the two vaccines approved for use in the United States would be available in the summer, bringing the total to 600 million doses – enough to vaccinate 300 million people. .
With vaccines for now largely limited to frontline healthcare professionals and high-risk groups, the hope is to give the public access to spring.
Although vaccine rollout began in late December, states have complained that the promised number of doses did not arrive. However, as manufacturing has increased, federal allocations will increase by about 16 percent in the coming week.
However, it is unclear whether the boost in the number of U.S. vaccines will help with Biden’s second priority by returning to schools for personal learning. However, a report from the Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday gave some optimism by concluding that schools have not been a major transfer center.
Data from the United States and abroad, reviewed by the CDC team, showed that schools were not close to transmission rates in places like nursing homes or high-density workplaces. The key to this effort seemed to be preventive measures, such as
“The conclusion here is with proper prevention efforts … we can keep transmission in schools and educational settings quite low,” said Margaret A. Honein, in a piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about the study.
Biden has said his goal is to have a majority of schools through 8th grade open within 100 days and has asked Congress for $ 130 billion to offset the cost of making educational institutions safer – as well as providing guidance on how.
The struggle to return to personal learning has been fierce, with teachers particularly looking forward to returning. In Chicago, members of the teachers’ union have denied orders to return to classrooms.
In 22 states as well as in the district, teachers have been added to the priority lists for vaccines in an effort to speed up reopening. But the chaotic rollout of vaccination programs in most states and limited supply have hampered that effort.
While Biden stresses that reopening schools is a priority, Europe seems to be heading in the opposite direction and increasingly shutting them down. Many European countries originally kept schools open much longer than in the United States, but are now succumbing to pressure from another wave.
Britain, Germany, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands announced closure due to fears that new variants of the virus, which are thought to be more contagious.
At morning news shows this week, British ministers have been filled with questions about when schools will reopen, with officials unable to provide a timeline, especially amid revelations that one of the new variants could spread more effective in children.
With one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the West, Britain hopes to blunt the latest wave of infections. Still, researchers say hopes of ending the current lockdown in April are far too optimistic.
In Moscow, however, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin abruptly lifted many of the city’s covid-related restrictions on Wednesday, saying the pandemic was “in decline” and that he had a “duty to create conditions” for a rapid economic recovery.
Russia registered more than 18,000 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest daily increase since late October. About 2,300 of these new infections were in Moscow. The measures included a curfew at 23.00 for bars and restaurants and an order that 30 percent of the employees of local companies work from home. The city’s public mask mandate remains in place.
But elsewhere, stricter restrictions have triggered unrest. In the Netherlands on Wednesday, calm returned to the streets after three days of widespread riots over a new night ban – the first in the country since World War II.
The riots saw rebels clash with police in more than a dozen Dutch cities, firing vehicles, looting shops and launching rocks and fireworks at officers. Bars, restaurants and shops have been closed as part of a monthly lock-up to slow the spread of the virus.
And while infections have declined in recent weeks, authorities say they are concerned about an increase in the cases they attribute to new, more contagious variants that first emerged in the UK and South Africa.
Vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have said their shots are effective against the new varieties – but offer less protection against the South African strain. Moderna said this week that it is developing a booster shot designed to protect against the new variants.
Concerns about the effectiveness of vaccines could complicate a broader battle for global vaccine supply, a combat expert says it will widen the gap between poorer and richer nations.
In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Bill Gates said poor countries will have a delay of at least six to eight months behind richer nations in accessing coronavirus vaccines. He said the first rollout of the vaccine was a “super hard allocation problem” that has put pressure on global institutions.
“Every politician is under pressure to bid for their country to get further up the queue,” said Gates, whose foundation has pledged $ 1.75 billion to help fight the pandemic.
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that its own vaccine sharing initiative, Covax, expects to have 25 million vaccine doses by March for a broad region that includes the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Somalia and Djibouti. It was unclear which nations received the first supplies.
The number of doses assigned to the region will reach 355 million in December, WHO official Yvan Hutin said.
Isabelle Khurshudyan in Moscow, Karla Adam in London and Quentin Aries in Brussels contributed to this report.