Covid-19 roundup: Scientists investigate potential safety changes to J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines; WTO lists critical inputs for vaccine manufacturing
Scientists from J&J, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are investigating potential modifications to their Covid-19 vaccines, to see if it’s possible to reduce or eliminate the risk of blood clots associated with both jabs.
The blood clots are rare, but potentially fatal, as the J&J vaccine has seen .3 instances of clotting per 100,000 doses administered, according to The Wall Street Journal. AstraZeneca has seen between one and two cases per 100,000 doses. AstraZeneca’s jab has yet to be granted US approval, while the use of J&J’s was briefly halted in April.
Scientists investigating how the clots form say that there’s hope that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be re-engineered by next year, but it’s too early to see whether that is possible, or if it would make sense, commercially, the WSJ reports. Along with scientific challenges, a modification could require ownership or regulatory updates.
On Monday, J&J’s jab was linked to a slight increase of risk to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause hospitalization and nerve damage.
WTO lists critical input list for vaccine manufacturing
The World Trade Organization has joined forces with the Asian Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and drug manufacturers among others, to compile a working document for manufacturers to clarify the steps needed to properly manufacture Covid-19 vaccines.
Comprised of 83 line items, the list encompasses vaccine manufacturing, storage and distribution and administration. It emerged out of discussions the WTO held last month in an effort to scale up vaccines around the globe and address mounting concerns about vaccine inequity: Out of the 3.41 billion doses administered worlwide, 22% have gone to 27 countries that have just 10.4% of the world population, according to Bloomberg’s tracker. Many African countries have vaccinated less than 1% of their populations.
The new inventory of ingredients is one of several information-sharing efforts WHO and WTO have taken to try to help countries scale vaccines, even as many European countries resist broader calls for a temporary waiver on companies’ intellectual property.
The list has no legal status, the agency said. It includes active ingredients, inactive ingredients, consumables, equipment and packaging.
Tawain ambassador explains crumble of BioNTech deal
A deal for BioNTech to send 5 million doses of its vaccine to Taiwan fell apart in January, a diplomat said Tuesday to Reuters.
Taiwan had still tried to get the vaccine from the German company that collaborated with Pfizer for months, but blamed China for the collapse of the deal, the report said.
Two tech companies had established with the government the rights to negotiate for 10 million doses. But Taiwan’s ambassador to Berlin, Shieh Jhy-wey, said that a change in contact at the BioNTech and what he called “political interference” led to the crumbling of the deal.