Covid-19 roundup: EU to support vaccine manufacturing efforts in Africa — report; Sputnik Light approved for use in Venezuela
The EU is expected to back an effort to expand vaccine manufacturing in Africa, unnamed officials told the Financial Times.
Only 1% of Covid-19 vaccines administered worldwide have been given in Africa — down from 2% a few weeks ago, the WHO reported on Friday. The country normally gets many of its vaccine doses from the Serum Institute of India, which is now diverting its Covid-19 shots for domestic use.
“We’re in a very tough spot when it comes to supply,” Richard Mihigo, Africa’s Immunization and Vaccines Development program coordinator with the WHO, said in a statement. “What is crucial for Africa is that we urgently use all the doses we have to protect our most vulnerable populations.”
At an upcoming global health summit in Rome, EC president Ursula von der Leyen is expected to support proposals to establish manufacturing hubs in Africa, the FT reported. That support could include direct EU aid, and funding from national agencies and the European Investment Bank, unnamed officials said. Plus, Brussels wants to help build up the African Medicines Agency, which the African Union Assembly adopted a treaty to establish in 2019.
“The EU’s intent is genuine — I don’t think it is necessarily geopolitical. They are hosting the global health summit and clearly they want to do a couple of big things,” said Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance, per the FT.
According to the report, the countries are considering three sites, including the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, and in Rwanda and South Africa.
The EU has said increasing vaccine production is more useful than waiving intellectual property rights on vaccines, which Pfizer has vocally opposed. — Nicole DeFeudis
Sputnik Light approved for use in Venezuela
The single-jab version of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik Light, has been approved in Venezuela, the Russian Direct Investment Fund announced. The country is the second to approve the single-dose version, as Angola approved the vaccine for use last week.
The RDIF announced on May 6 that a single-shot version of the Sputnik V vaccine has been approved by the Russian regulatory officials. The Venezuelan approval will help accelerate the country’s vaccination campaign, RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev said to Reuters. In January 2021, the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine was also approved for use in Venezuela under the emergency use authorization procedure.
Sputnik Light has proved 79% efficacy, the RDIF claims, according to data from 28 days after the injection was administered. Vaccine makers also say that there were no serious side effects from the vaccine. The study of real-world data has garnered skepticism, as Russian President Vladimir Putin rolled out vaccine use before it cleared any safety studies.
Sputnik V was also approved in Ecuador Saturday, the RDIF announced. — Josh Sullivan
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