New Straits Times
U.S. SET TO APPROVE 3RD COVID-19 VACCINE
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.