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Jimmy Cliff

Oxfam urges vaccine developers to collaborate to meet international demand

The Oxford-based charity welcomed reports that the local vaccine was up to 90% effective.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced plans yesterday for 700 million doses of the vaccine to be ready globally by the end of March next year.

The vaccine’s supply chain and a “no-profit pledge” by the two partners means that if approved, the jab will be affordable and globally available, according to developers at the pharmaceutical company.

But while the data was welcomed worldwide, charities urged for collaboration between vaccine developers to ensure international demand is met.

Oxfam’s health policy manager Anna Marriott urged for pharmaceutical companies to work together for a “people’s vaccine”.

“This is another breakthrough and while the results from the AstraZeneca/Oxford trial are slightly less promising than those from Pfizer and Moderna, they have pledged to do far more to make sure the vaccine reaches people in poorer countries,” she said.

“No one company is equipped to produce enough doses to meet the unprecedented global demand on their own.

“All pharmaceutical companies should work together for a people’s vaccine by urgently transferring their technology and know-how, in order for everyone in the world to have access to a safe and effective vaccine.”

Responding to the results, Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said Monday was “a very exciting day”.

“We have a vaccine for the world, because we’ve got a vaccine which is highly effective – it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation,” he said.

Speaking to reporters during a Science Media Centre briefing, Prof Pollard said the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature.

Compared to the minus 70C to minus 80C needed for the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine can be transported and distributed more easily, and will be easier to store in lower-income countries.

Pam Cheng, executive vice president of operations and information technology at AstraZeneca, said “great progress” was being made with regard to the global supply chain.

AstraZeneca will have approaching 200 million doses by the end of this year, with more than 700 million doses globally by the end of the first quarter of 2021, she told the briefing.

“We plan to be supplying by the end of the year, with hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine supply in 2021 on a rolling basis, obviously pending regulatory approval,” she said.

“From the very beginning we wanted to have in place the capacity to manufacture a meaningful volume quickly so we could make a real difference in the fight against this pandemic.”

The UK has placed orders for 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, while the US has agreed up to 300 million.

Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, has secured up to 400 million doses.

Elsewhere, AstraZeneca has reached an agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for one billion doses for low and middle-income countries, with a commitment to provide 400 million before the end of this year.

And an agreement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and global vaccine alliance Gavi will enable 300 million doses to low and middle-income countries.

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