African Union skips curbs AZ, Philippines The Canberra Times

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The Philippines has joined Australia in restricting the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, while the African Union has dropped plans to buy the injection, which has dealt further blows to the company’s hopes of delivering the vaccine to the world. The vaccine – developed with Oxford University and considered a leader in the global vaccine race – has been plagued by safety concerns and supply problems since the results of a phase III trial were released in December, and Indonesia is the latest country to seek doses from other vaccine manufacturers. The Philippines suspended the use of AstraZenec injections for people under the age of 60 after the European regulator said on Wednesday that it had found rare cases of blood clots in some adult recipients, although the benefits of the vaccine still outweighed the risks. Australia has recommended that people under the age of 50 be given the Pfizer vaccine COVID-19, not AstraZeneca, which is a policy change it has warned it will keep the vaccination campaign. The African Union is exploring possibilities with Johnson & Johnson, which has given up plans to buy the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Indian Serum Institute, the head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters. The AstraZeneca shot sells for a few dollars per dose. It is the cheapest and most comprehensive launch to date and does not have any of the ultimate cooling requirements of some other COVID-19 vaccines, making it probably the mainstay of many vaccination programs in the developing world. But more than a dozen countries have suddenly suspended or partially discontinued the use of stings, first because of concerns about efficacy in older people, and now because of concerns about rare side effects in younger people. That, along with production delays, will delay the introduction of vaccines around the world as governments struggle to find alternatives to curb the pandemic that has killed more than 3 million. Italy joined France, the Netherlands, Germany and others in recommending a minimum age for recipients of the AstraZeneca shooting on Wednesday, and the UK said people under the age of 30 should get an alternative. South Korea also suspended the use of the vaccine in people under the age of 60 this week, approving Johnson & Johnson’s sting. AstraZeneca said it was working with UK and EU regulators to list possible blood clots in the brain as an “extremely rare potential side effect”. South Africa also paused vaccination against AstraZeneca last month due to a small study that showed that the shoot offers minimal protection against mild to moderate disease caused by a dominant variant of the local coronavirus. AstraZeneca is struggling with production problems that have led to shortcomings in its shooting in several countries. Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Thursday that the country is negotiating with China to receive as many as 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to fill the gap in deliveries following delays in the arrival of footage from AstraZeneca. India has temporarily halted all major exports of AstraZeneca injection made by the Indian Serum Institute (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, as domestic infections grow. This has affected the supply of the global GAVI / WHO-supported COVAX vaccine exchange facility, through which 64 poorer countries should receive doses from SII, Reuters, a UNICEF procurement and distribution partner, told Reuters last month. The UK is slowing down the introduction of the vaccine due to delays in shipments from India and is arguing with the EU over exports. Australia also blamed supply issues in Europe for the delay in the immunization campaign. AstraZeneca cited reduced yields in the European plant behind a lack of EU supply. Australian Associated Press

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