Chile‘s health regulator on Monday approved the use of Chinese laboratory Sinovac‘s COVID-19 vaccine for children over the age of six, allowing them to be included in the country’s mass, rapid immunization program.
The South American country has used Sinovac’s formula as the flagship of its successful program, which has already been completed by more than 13 million of its 19 million people.
Until now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the only one used in children aged 12 and older, and Colombia recently gave nod to the vaccination of people over 12 years old with this vaccine.
President Iván Duque announced that, starting on August 28, the entire population over 12 years old is allowed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with Pfizer‘s vaccine, the only one authorized by health regulators for this age group.
Colombia had already authorized the immunization of young people between 15 and 19 years old.
According to Health Minister Fernando Ruíz, 83% of people over 50 have already received the first dose, and 71% the second dose, but the country still has 2.7 million people to be vaccinated.
Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday they have signed an agreement with Brazilian drugmaker Eurofarma to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine they developed for distribution in Latin America.
To facilitate Eurofarma’s manufacturing, the companies said technical transfer activities on-site development, and equipment installation will begin immediately.
According to the agreement, Eurofarma will receive the product from facilities in the U.S and the manufacturing of doses in Brazil will start in 2022.
At full operational capacity, annual production is expected to exceed 100 million doses. All doses will be distributed exclusively in Latin America. “Our new collaboration with Eurofarma expands our global supply chain network, helping us continue to provide fair and equitable access to our vaccine,” Albert Bourla, president and CEO of Pfizer, said.
To date, Pfizer and BioNTech have shipped more than 1.3 billion doses of their vaccine against COVID-19 to more than 120 countries and territories in all regions of the the world.
On Wednesday, Brazil‘s Ministry of Health announced that a third booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to immunosuppressed people over 70 years old, starting in the second half of September. This third dose will preferably be from Pfizer/BioNTech, and, secondly, Janssen or Oxford/AstraZeneca.
In addition, starting in September Brazil will anticipate the interval between the first and second dose of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, from the current 12 weeks to 8 weeks.
Both measures are a response to the rise in COVID-19 cases caused mainly by variants such as gamma (Brazilian) and delta (Indian). The latter already account for most of the infections in Rio de Janeiro, today the epicenter of the disease in Brazil.
The ministry did not mention CoronaVac, a Covid-19 vaccine from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac that is being bottled in Brazil by the Butantan Institute, linked to the government of the State of São Paulo.
As pointed out by Reuters, CoronaVac, which kicked off the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in Brazil in January, is frequently attacked by PresidentJair Bolsonaro, even without scientific basis. Bolsonaro is a political enemy of the governor of São Paulo, João Doria.
“These decisions were taken together with Conass (the National Council of Health Secretaries), Conasems (the National Council of Municipal Health Secretaries), and the Technical Advisory Chamber on Immunization COVID-19 (Cetai) of our ministry,” said the Brazilian Health Ministry in a statement.
The second half of September was chosen as the date for the start of the vaccine boost because it is also when the Brazilian government hopes to have vaccinated the entire population of the country with at least one dose. Until Tuesday, according to data from the Ministry of Health, 123.9 million Brazilians had received the first dose of the vaccine against the disease (about 59% of adults), while 55.7 million (or 26.5% of adults ) were fully immunized.
While in the U.S. vaccination has slowed significantly with vaccine hesitancy, Latin America‘s countries are eager to vaccinate, and now they’re inoculating at a higher pace than the U.S., reported The Wall Street Journal.
Latin Americans usually trust vaccines, despite of their wealthiest counterparts. In Chile, for instance, roughly two thirds of population are fully vaccinated.
AstraZeneca antibody cocktail avoids COVID-19: trial met primary endpoint
AstraZeneca announced on Friday that its antibody therapy has achieved the primary goal of preventing COVID-19 in a late-stage study, putting the British drugmaker on track to be able to offer an alternative to vaccines for people with weakened immune systems.
After the first monoclonal treatment reached good results with phase 3, the company intends to make it available to vulnerable populations worldwide
The company said the cocktail has two types of antibodies, first discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, decreased the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77%.
More than 75% of participants had chronic problems, including some linked to a reduced immune reaction to the vaccination, AstraZeneca said.
The results bring relief to the drugmaker, which in June reported that a smaller late-stage trial provided no evidence that the antibody cocktail, known for now as AZD7442, protected people who had contact with a person infected with the disease.
The UK-Swedish company, which faces challenges distributing its Covid-19 vaccine, is also working to adapt existing drugs to fight the virus.
More adults in their 30s and 40s are going to hospital as the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus spreads through Mexico‘s cities, and research shows reluctance to vaccinations is increasing among younger people.
In January, at the peak of the pandemic, 10% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were aged 18 to 39, according to the Ministry of Health. Now, cases have again reached near-record levels and this percentage has tripled.
“When the virus enters places where there is fertile ground, either because there are fewer vaccinated people or because there are more susceptible people, it will end up sickening those who are not vaccinated,” explained Mexican physician Alejandro Macías.
There is not a big old anti-vaccine movement in Mexico, unlike in the U.S. and in Europe, but the dissemination of false information about COVID-19 vaccines on large social media platforms and by religious groups seems to be decreasing inoculation, as well as ‘wait-and-see’ attitudes and a sense of invincibility among young people, experts said.
A late July survey by the Mitofsky Consultation found that 7.2% of respondents said they did not want the vaccine, up from 2.9% earlier this month.
A global study by Facebook and the U.S. University of Maryland found that up to 11.3% of Mexicans would prefer not to get vaccinated – a far lower figure than in the U.S, where nearly a third of the population has yet to receive the first dose.
In Mexico City, which is home to many young people, almost a quarter of people aged 30 to 49 have yet to show up for immunization months after their age group was allowed to do so. The government has recently started vaccinating people under 30.
Brazil‘s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Saturday that the federal government intends to anticipate the application of the second dose of Pfizer‘s vaccines starting in September. Why in September? Because next month the government expects that all people over 18 will have taken at least the first dose.
Pfizer does suggest the second dose inoculation to take place 21 days after the first, but the Brazilian government decided to extend the deadline to three months initially due to fears about the timetable for the arrival of the immunizers in the country.
With the regularization of delivery, the Ministry of Health began to study the return to the original deadline but delayed the change until vaccination reached 18 years at the request of state secretaries.
Until Friday, 73% of Brazilian adults (117.5 million) have received at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19, according to the consortium of news outlets that gather data directly from the state health secretariats. The number of fully vaccinated adults, however, remains much lower (30,5%, or 49 million).
At the same time, CDCP’s numbers show that the United States has now 167.7 million adults (or 59% of the total) with at least one shot of vaccine against the disease.
The Latin American country has a greater tradition when it comes to vaccination. Even with the denial stance of its president, Jair Bolsonaro, 94% of Brazilians have already been vaccinated or want to be vaccinated, according to a survey by DataFolha carried out last month.
Chile on Wednesday began administering COVID-19 booster shots to those already immunized with CoronaVac, in a bid to ensure the success of one of the fastest mass vaccination campaigns in the world.
The South American country is offering a dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to citizens aged 86 and over who had their first vaccinations before March 31.
Queues of elderly citizens eager for the vaccines began forming at vaccination centers in neighborhoods of the capital, Santiago, on a cold winter morning.
“They arrived very early, like on an election day, very well dressed, very happy,” said Rodolfo Carter, mayor of the La Florida commune on the outskirts of the city. “I think it’s a great sign of hope.”
Chile‘s strong campaign had more than 67 percent of its population fully vaccinated, predominantly with CoronaVac, from Chinese manufacturer Sinovac. But officials said last week that studies showed a booster dose was needed to boost immunity.
“Studies have shown that in approximately six months there is a decrease (of antibodies) and that’s why we decided … to give that booster dose,” Health Minister Enrique Paris told reporters.
Chile joins the United States, Germany, France, and Israel in administering the booster shots, despite the World Health Organization’s call to wait until more people around the world can receive the first dose.