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WHO urges Serum Institute to ramp up Covishield production

Serum Institute is manufacturing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University covid-19 vaccine, under the name of Covishield. (Photo: AP) (AP)Premium
Serum Institute is manufacturing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University covid-19 vaccine, under the name of Covishield. (Photo: AP) (AP)

  • In total, Serum Institute will deliver 240 million doses to various low- and middle-income countries, including Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and India, under Covax by June at an agreed price of $3 per dose to be borne by the facility's dedicated fund

NEW DELHI: With Germany, France, Italy, Spain, among others, resuming administration of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine following reassurances from top regulators on its safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Astrazenca to ramp up production of the jabs to enable vaccine equity.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, on Tuesday said he spoke to vaccine manufacturers on how to ramp up production.

Also Read | Six wrong calls on post-covid economy

On Monday, a study, conducted in the US, Chile and Peru, reportedly showed that the vaccine was 79% effective in preventing the illness and 100% effective against severe symptoms and hospitalisation.

"These data are further evidence that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective", Tedros said.

Several European countries had suspended administration of the vaccine after reports emerged that the shots may be causing blood clots in very rare cases.

Allaying fears, a review by the WHO’s vaccine safety panel based on available data found no increased risk of blood clotting following vaccine administration. The apex global public health agency said the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine continues to have a “tremendous potential" to prevent infections and reduce deaths across the world.

WHO also noted that AstraZeneca was the only company that committed to not profiting from its covid-19 vaccine during the pandemic and the only vaccine developer that made a significant contribution to vaccine equity by licensing its technology to several other companies.

Led by the WHO, jointly with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Covax initiative is aimed at equitable access to covid-19 vaccines globally. Under the facility’s Advance Market Commitment (AMC) programme, 92 low- and middle-income countries will get vaccine supported by Covax’s dedicated fund.

In total, Serum Institute will deliver 240 million doses to various low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and India, under Covax by June at an agreed price of $3 per dose which will be borne by the facility’s dedicated fund.

The facility has been criticised so far for not being effective amid vaccine hoarding by rich countries. The US has administered over 65 million doses and the UK nearly 20 million, while Canada has reserved as many as five times the number of doses it requires.

The WHO has been raising concerns on equitable distribution of vaccines across the world.

“The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage, it’s also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating", Tedros said.

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