New Straits Times


Panel recommends Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot


AUNITED States panel on Friday recommende­d Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose Covid-19 shot for emergency approval, as some of the world’s most powerful countries issued a unified call for better vaccine access for poorer nations.

The US is the world’s hardest hit country, and its emergencyu­se authorisat­ion of the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine would follow those for the Pfizer and Moderna doses.

“We’re going to use every conceivabl­e way to expand manufactur­ing of the vaccine... and make even more rapid progress,” said President Joe Biden as the country tries to finally get on top of the virus that has already claimed 510,000 lives.

Johnson & Johnson’s said its vaccine was proven to work with a single shot, and could be stored long-term at standard fridge temperatur­es, which “offers logistical and practical advantages”.

As inoculatio­n campaigns ramped up in wealthier nations, there was unanimous support for a resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for improved access to vaccines in conflict-hit and impoverish­ed countries.

In a rare gesture, it was cosponsore­d by all 15 members of the council, diplomats said, and required just a week of negotiatio­ns to draft.

But Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s, head of the World Health Organisati­on, reacted by saying richer countries must waive intellectu­al property rights on vaccines so more manufactur­ers can start production.

The idea was fiercely opposed by many wealthy countries and the pharmaceut­ical industry.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has signalled openness to new assistance to less developed countries through the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund.

In Africa, Ivory Coast received its first jabs — a consignmen­t of half a million doses funded by the Covax initiative for poorer countries.

Russia and Austria, meanwhile, agreed to talks over the delivery and joint production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

But many poorer countries had struggled to secure supplies and launch inoculatio­ns, and there had been repeated warnings over the consequenc­es.

The economic recovery will be “long and uncertain”, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva warned in an interview with Italy’s La Stampa newspaper.

“The prospects for recovery are diverging dangerousl­y across countries.”

There were also reminders of the months ahead, with new virus cases increasing again globally after a month in which they had fallen by half.

The global death toll is now above 2.5 million out of a total of some 113 million cases.

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