Covid-19: Johnson & Johnson submits emergency use listing to World Health Organization for vaccine

Friday, 19 Feb, 2021

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, signaled broad support for Macron's proposal but said details still have to be thrashed out.

Data shows that richer countries are hoarding COVID-19 vaccines at the expense of poorer ones.

"It's an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it's politically unsustainable too because it's paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines", he said.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres also slammed in his speech the "wildly uneven and fair" rollout of COVID-19 jabs, adding 10 nations accounted for 75 percent of all vaccines.

The J&J vaccine is administered in a single dose and can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, a big selling point in countries with relatively weaker healthcare infrastructure. He said: "Those affected by conflict and insecurity are at particular risk of being left behind".

Vaccine equity is the biggest moral test facing the global community, the United Nations secretary-general warned.

Beijing is not part of the G7 - which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA - and Washington is repositioning rich democracies as a counterweight to China amid mistrust of its initial handling of Covid-19.

French President Emmanuel Macron gave a firmer target, saying Europe and the US should allocate up to 5% of their current COVID-19 vaccine supplies to the poorest countries "very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening".

Despite South Africa experiencing problems with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, including asking the Indian manufacturer to take back around one million doses, authorities in Botswana say they are open to rolling out the drug as part of its COVID-19 control strategy.

US President Joe Biden will pledge US$4 billion in US aid to the Covax global COVID-19 vaccination program during his virtual meeting with other G7 leaders on Friday, White House officials said.

Johnson will also use the G7 to push for the World Health Organization and worldwide scientists to work on development of new vaccines in just 100 days.

"Perhaps more than ever, the hopes of the world rest on the shoulders of scientists and over the past year, like countless times before, they have risen to the challenge", Johnson said in a pre-summit statement. Officials need to assess continued supply chain reliability and whether new vaccines are needed for variants or as a booster dose in the autumn. Biden is expected to discuss that initiative - which officials say is starting to pay dividends - with Pfizer executives during his tour.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Macron noted that Russian Federation and China have been quick to offer doses of their own products to some African nations. It's not about vaccine diplomacy. In an update by public-health officials Thursday, the government announced the pace of deliveries of both the Pfizer Inc.

If the coronavirus is allowed to spread uncontrolled anywhere on the planet, it has a higher chance of mutating into new strains that can evade existing vaccines. He also broached the issue of ending pharmaceutical companies' control of intellectual property rights saying he did not think the debate was helpful. "CEPI's investments in this vaccine have been pivotal to enabling equitable access to a significant volume of this vaccine through COVAX".

The money would go to Gavi, a vaccine distribution group that co-leads COVAX along with the WHO.

On February 1, Pakistan became the world's first country to receive China's vaccine donation of 500,000 doses. Novavax and Gavi haven't yet finalized the advanced purchase agreement for supply of the two-shot regimen. At least 50 countries had cleared it for use before WHO's decision.

The news comes after U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken said the United States would lead in deploying vaccines globally and pledged over $200m to the UN and COVAX programmes.