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Vaccine sentiment January 25, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is somewhat heartening. From The Irish Times late last week comes the news:

Dr Henry warned that the vaccine will not have “any significant impact” on the current surge. He revealed that acceptance of the vaccine is the second highest in the European Union after Malta, with 37 per cent of Irish adults declaring they would wish to get the vaccine as soon as possible against the EU average of 23 per cent. Only 8 per cent of respondents were opposed to ever receiving the vaccine, which is less than half of the EU average of 17 per cent.

Those figures on antagonism to taking the vaccine are important. Too large a cohort could cause real problems in ensuring that there’s sufficient coverage to provide a degree of immunity. But 8 per cent is remarkably small. That said there’s a certain irritation in knowing some will be in essence freeloading, though another way of looking at it is that they are taking quite a chance themselves in not getting vaccinated. And who knows, perhaps by the time the mid-Summer rolls around most of that crew will have seen some sense.

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1. irishelectionliterature - January 25, 2021

Vaccine hesitancy is a big danger. I was onto a Friend in the US at the weekend who was telling me that he had just been vaccinated. Wondered how he had got it so quickly. Turns out he was registered in a very Trump/Republican area where over half those called so far have declined the vaccine.
I’d imagine that there will be parts of the US that will have a huge amount not willing to take it.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2021

That’s very worrying and of course if people internationally don’t get vaccinated that leaves them open to the disease and further mutations of the disease and so on.

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2. irishelectionliterature - January 25, 2021

On a slightly related note that story about The Astra Xeneca vaccine only having 8% efficacy among over-65s is very worrying. Means rollout will be slower……. probably also means the UK will have to go back and revaccinate a lot of people and that they approved it way too quick.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2021

Where is that story IEL do you happen to know?

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3. irishelectionliterature - January 25, 2021

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irishelectionliterature - January 25, 2021

The rumour is that it won’t be licensed for over 65’s in the EU. Which totally fucks up our rollout and creates a massive headache for the UK that has already rolled out the vaccine.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2021

Jesus Christ, that’s a massive screwup. Uh-oh.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2021

Yeah, even this evening they were still trumpeting the idea that AZ’s vaccine was key to the vaccination programme:

“Assuming authorisation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine by the European Medicines Agency later this week, older people will be vaccinated in the order: 85 and older, 80-84, 75-79 and 70-74, according to the Minister.”

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irishelectionliterature - January 26, 2021

AZ denying the story.

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WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2021

Hmmm… Difficult to know what to make of it.

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Liberius - January 26, 2021

Jesus Christ, that’s a massive screwup. Uh-oh.

It’s not a very surprising one though as it was fairly obvious that it was a potential reason for the claimed 90% effectiveness of the “half dose” “happy accident” after it was revealed that that cohort was only those under 55 years old. Personally I’ve been fairly worried by the potential for my mother and her friends getting a false sense of security if this vaccine is let through in spite of the obvious problems with it and the trial data. I’d be quite happy if they do make the sensible decision to not give it to older people.

Strongly recommend people read this report from Reuters from the 24th of December on the troubled data and blame shirking with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

Ultimately, 1,367 trial participants – none of them over 55 – received the half-dose/full-dose regimen. Two full doses were given to 4,440 adult participants, from all age groups.

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-britain-vaccine-sp/special-report-how-a-british-covid-19-vaccine-went-from-pole-position-to-troubled-start-idUKKBN28Y0Y5?edition-redirect=uk&s=09

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Liberius - January 26, 2021

Additionally to this I do wonder how likely it would be that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine might well have been rejected outright if their wasn’t such political pressure from member states with an inability to utilise the BioNtech & Moderna vaccines.

For mass vaccination, Bulgaria’s strategy appears to rely on the new vaccine by AstraZeneca, rather than on those by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, already approved in the EU, EURACTIV Bulgaria reported on Friday (8 January), based on leaked documents and unofficial information.

Latvia’s prime minister on Tuesday (5 January) fired his health minister in a row over coronavirus vaccination policy, straining ties within the governing coalition.

Krisjanis Karins said the Baltic state was “struggling with the consequences of not having a clear and comprehensible plan of action”.

Latvia has focused its vaccination plan mainly on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has so far not been authorised in the European Union.

Government opponents have criticised the slow start of Latvia’s vaccination campaign and the choice to purchase a relatively small amount of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which have been authorised by the European Medicines Agency.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/news/bulgaria-holds-its-horses-with-pfizer-moderna-vaccines-puts-hopes-in-astrazeneca/

https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/latvia-health-minister-fired-in-vaccine-row/

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4. CL - January 26, 2021

” Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has dismissed reports in German media claiming that the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine was largely ineffective on elderly people above 65…..
“In November, we published data in The Lancet demonstrating that older adults showed strong immune responses to the vaccine, with 100% of older adults generating spike-specific antibodies after the second dose,” AstraZeneca’s spokesperson said.
https://www.dw.com/en/astrazeneca-german-reports-on-low-efficacy-on-over-65s-completely-incorrect/a-56341198

” We do not yet know if the vaccines curb transmission, though it is reasonable to hope they might….
Academic researchers warned vaccination alone might not induce sufficient herd immunity to stamp out the virus. An unhappy combination of imperfect vaccine efficacy, suboptimal take-up and super-infectious variants could derail attempts to reach the herd immunity threshold….
If regions with raging transmission do act as breeding grounds for resistant variants, then failing to control spread will prolong the pandemic. Prof de Oliveira stresses that Taiwan, China, Australia and New Zealand, which have chased elimination, are the role models to follow….
That means not just vaccinating but fast testing, accurate and quick contact tracing, quarantine and isolation. In short, vaccination must go hand-in-hand with virus suppression, not become a substitute for it. A successful vaccine rollout will count for little if the country then becomes a crucible for resistant variants.”
https://www.ft.com/content/17c44c96-39f2-4ada-badd-d65815b0a521

Vaccine doses administered per 100,000;

Israel 42.3 – Jan 25 2021

UK 10.5 – Jan 24 2021

US 6.6 – Jan 24 2021

Ireland 2.9 – Jan 24 2021

https://ig.ft.com/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker/

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5. CL - January 26, 2021

” How did a country with barely 9m citizens persuade companies courting markets with hundreds of millions of potential customers to fill its orders first?
Israel “politicians promised to build one of the fastest vaccination drives in the world and share data on its impact on the pandemic, so long as supplies were plentiful and uninterrupted. Pfizer agreed and the deliveries started by mid-December….
“We are vaccinating at 10 times the pace of the United States,” Mr Netanyahu said on Sunday, promising 1m new shots this week. “No country has done what we are able to do.”
The deal — and the breakneck efficiency of the vaccination drive — has bolstered Mr Netanyahu’s political fortunes, as he seeks re-election in late-March. ”
https://www.ft.com/content/3aae4345-46cc-4636-a3f9-a93a6762f87f

” A growing number of Democrats have been speaking out against Israel for not vaccinating Palestinians in the West Bank.

On Sunday, newly elected New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman joined senior House Rep. Joaquin Castro, freshman Rep. Marie Newman, former vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib in voicing his concern over the matter.”
https://www.timesofisrael.com/more-and-more-us-democrats-call-out-israel-for-not-vaccinating-palestinians/

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6. NFB - January 26, 2021

Read an interesting article about Turkmenistan yesterday, a country that refuses to acknowledge the virus’ existence officially, and has referred to the mountain of sick people showing up at hospitals as suffering from pneumonia. Now that they are due to host sporting events “Foreign track cyclists arriving in Turkmenistan will be vaccinated against unspecified “infectious diseases” with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, which Turkmenistan has approved the registration of”

https://cyclingtips.com/2021/01/covid-free-turkmenistan-to-vaccinate-riders-against-virus-it-wont-acknowledge/

Also, a nice bit of Comical Ali in there: “Berdimuhamedov also noted that “Turkmen tennis players win prizes in international competitions”. [Related: Turkmenistan’s leading male tennis player, Aleksandr Ernepesov, is ATP-unranked and has career prize money of US$104].”

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7. Liberius - January 26, 2021

That’s a fairly large error to make.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 26, 2021

Ah – thanks Liberius.

The British Vaccination Authorities still have a good international reputation, so I’d be surprised if the rumours are true. Usual problem of statistically and scientifically illiterate journos and editors then.

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sonofstan - January 26, 2021

“Usual problem of statistically and scientifically illiterate journos and editors then”

There was an example of that yesterday with a report in the Guardian about drinking and drugging among British people. Bit of digging turns out the survey was an online, self-selecting sample with no adjustment for population/ demographics etc. In other words, useless.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 26, 2021

Yes – seen that on Deutschlandfunk as well. Makes sense.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 26, 2021

That said the Tory governments decision to rely on a single dose is largely a shot in the dark. And provides a fertile landscape for the virus to achieve ‘immune escape’. In other words half-vacinnated people will provide a large reservoir of people in whom the virus can evolve to resist or bypass the immune system response created by the vaccine.

The Tories gifted the world the spreading of Variant B117, even if it didn’t originate in the UK, and perhaps their ambitions go even further.

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WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2021

That’s a dark prospect but certainly the Tories have been atrocious this time around.

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8. FergusD - January 26, 2021

I have had a single shot of the Oxford/AZvacvine. Earlier than most my age because my GP practice could, not sure why, and don’t know how vaccines are allowed to practices etc. I asked the nurse if it was a full or half shot, she didn’t know. All my friends say ‘great you got it’ but I too worry about ‘immune escape’. A partial immune response may well serve to make us the ideal environment for the emergence of new variant not dealt with by this vaccine. Too much ‘let’s try this’ and not enough going by the science we know, rather than what we hope for. It is still, as stated above, down to the right public health measures e.g China, Oz etc. My son in Oz is living a normal life.

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9. gregtimo - January 26, 2021

WorldByStorm think this was the story you meant to link .
https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40210721.html
I have problems believing the survey as
1. Have a relative long brainwashed in the anti-Vax++ Cosmic Right quasi religion who’s very resistant to reason
and 2. The huge rise in infections here to one of the world’s worst indicating a high degree of Covid complacency .

Nevertheless I am using the story to try to add to the social pressurization of the relative .

Could it be that the over-spinning of the imminence of our Vaccine delivery increased complacency across the board over Xmas? Cant find the survey at the Eurobarometer site, but I presume they are professionally done given the depth of detail in the collected surveys
https://www.europarl.europa.eu/at-your-service/en/be-heard/eurobarometer

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WorldbyStorm - January 28, 2021

+1 re over spinning vaccine story Greg

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10. gregtimo - January 26, 2021

To boot I hope that FT story on Israel is flawed as the implications are rather grim all round as to the merits of having a corrupt going of far right leader . Is the Israeli version peculiarly efficient ?

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Liberius - January 28, 2021

So even if Handelsblatt got their numbers wrong it does look like the concerns were valid.

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11. Liberius - January 28, 2021

…But the experts’ highly public move makes it very difficult for German authorities to advocate giving the jab to those 65 and over, at least for now, even the EMA deems it safe to do so…

“Now we should use [the AstraZeneca vaccine] for younger people,” said Karl Lauterbach, a health policy expert from Germany’s Social Democratic Party.

Lauterbach slammed AstraZeneca’s vaccine efficiency studies, which included only a small number of people over 65, as “simply poorly done.” Yet he also criticized the experts’ recommendation: “Not allowing vaccines for elderly who carry such a risk is something I would not have done myself. I therefore find the decision wrong.”

Lauterbach’s last comment there is why it is vitally important that public health experts take the initiative in making politicians wear these decisions. Echo’s of NPHET’s level 5 advice in October in going against excessively optimistic politicians.

https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-reservations-on-oxford-astrazeneca-coronavirus-vaccine-jab-eus-woes/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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12. Liberius - January 29, 2021

…J&J said Friday that in the U.S. and seven other countries, the single-shot vaccine was 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe illness, and much more protective — 85% — against the most serious symptoms.

There was some geographic variation. The vaccine worked better in the U.S. — 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 – compared to 57% in South Africa, where it was up against an easier-to-spread mutated virus…

…J&J said its vaccine works consistently in a broad range of people: A third of participants were over age 60, and more than 40% had other illnesses putting them at risk of severe COVID-19, including obesity, diabetes and HIV…

That later paragraph gives you hope the data is quite robust, also the fact that the SA results aren’t that much lower than the others is fairly encouraging. Though you’d think boosters will be needed in the future if these mutations continue to spread.

https://apnews.com/article/ap-top-news-coronavirus-pandemic-coronavirus-vaccine-a7d254f0299d846062bf6195031880a3

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13. Liberius - January 29, 2021

AstraZeneca approved.

These showed a 59.5% reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases in people given the vaccine (64 of 5,258 got COVID-19 with symptoms) compared with people given control injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). This means that the vaccine demonstrated around a 60% efficacy in the clinical trials.

Most of the participants in these studies were between 18 and 55 years old. There are not yet enough results in older participants (over 55 years old) to provide a figure for how well the vaccine will work in this group. However, protection is expected, given that an immune response is seen in this age group and based on experience with other vaccines; as there is reliable information on safety in this population, EMA’s scientific experts considered that the vaccine can be used in older adults. More information is expected from ongoing studies, which include a higher proportion of elderly participants.

Do wonder about the amount of political pressure that existed to reach that decision on the over 55s, hopefully it does all work out.

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/ema-recommends-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-authorisation-eu

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14. banjoagbeanjoe - January 29, 2021

All we can do is hope that as many as possible of the vaccines that are at various stages of development at the moment turn out to be effective. And that they then go into production and there’s enough effective vaccines for everyone as soon as possible. Should happen by the end of this year all over the world I hope.

The young lad at home has an interesting take on people refusing to take the vaccine. He’s fully backing their stance. “The more of them who refuse, the quicker I’ll get vaccinated.” There’s a logic there.

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Liberius - January 29, 2021

The WHO is not quite as convinced that it will be available all over the world. This Der Spiegel article is worth the read to understand the global state of play. On the refuseniks the more than there are the more opportunities exist for continued spread and further mutations, not to mention the continued risk to those with weak immune systems irrespective of vaccination status.

The WHO head spoke openly about what many are thinking in Africa and everywhere else where there is neither the money nor the power to get the vaccine. “I need to be blunt,” Tedros, who is Ethiopian, railed. “The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure.”

Officials at WHO fear the world could break into two vaccine blocs. On the one side, a small elite from countries that immunize their populations to a wide extent. These countries could boost their economies, open theaters and schools and international tourism could be boosted because these governments agree on travel corridors among themselves.

https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-stalled-global-vaccine-drive-the-west-s-greed-could-come-back-to-haunt-it-a-dc4b8653-d935-4938-928a-746b031bf0c9#ref=rss

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CL - January 29, 2021

” Hours before the EMA decision on Friday, President Macron said: “Today everything suggests that (the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine) is almost ineffective for those over 65, and some say over 60.”
The French leader’s comments came after Germany’s independent vaccination advisory commission recommended the jab’s use for under-65s only, saying on Thursday that it lacked data on its efficacy for older people.”
https://www.ft.com/content/a7d38aba-aed0-44df-b4ec-efba6470505e

Presumably, Germany will follow the advice of its public health agency and not use AstraZeneca to vaccinate the over 65s. What about France?

” The European Union is facing an accelerating health, economic, and political crisis because of the continent’s persistent failure to vaccinate its population…
Non-EU governments, such as Israel and the U.K., that made quicker and less price-conscious purchase decisions have been more successful at acquiring early supplies….
But if the EU embraces vaccine nationalism to the point of denying companies the right to export vaccines under contract until the EU has secured its own vaccines, it would mark a catastrophic policy mistake…..
The EU finds itself in an economically and politically explosive situation. Without more vaccines, the EU will not be able to reopen its economy expeditiously, at least not without a ruinous death toll. There will also not be any quick fixes in the coming weeks, as complex vaccine manufacturing capacity cannot be magically conjured up overnight…..
The EU must now embrace, in true Hippocratic form, a commitment to do no further harm. The continent must refrain from embracing vaccine nationalism and barriers to trade in vaccines and components. ”
https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/01/28/europes-vaccine-disaster-isnt-lack-of-supply/

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sonofstan - January 29, 2021

The upfront spend on vaccine research in the entire EU is less than the UK spend:

The EU had spent just €1.78bn in “risk money”, cash handed to pharmaceutical companies without any guarantee of a return, compared to €1.9bn by the UK and €9bn by the US.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/29/we-had-to-go-it-alone-how-the-uk-got-ahead-in-the-covid-vaccine-race

And now it looks as if the EU is about to use the NI protocol against the UK….

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WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2021

Not clever at all re theNI protocol. Vastly too belligerent and arguably very counterproductive

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sonofstan - January 29, 2021

I think the illusion the illusion in Govt. buildings that we’re the EUs favourite child might take a bit of a battering. They didn’t even tell MM till afterwards.

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CL - January 29, 2021
CL - January 29, 2021

” It is believed a resolution to the row is now “in sight”.

Senior government sources have indicated to RTÉ News that the Government’s concerns have been taken onboard, following a number of direct discussions between the Taoiseach and the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen.” -Tony Connelly, RTE.

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CL - January 29, 2021

” The EU has backtracked on a decision to block vaccines being transported into Northern Ireland….
An European Commission source described the decision to invoke the article as an “oversight”. The source said a “mistake was made somewhere along the way” and insisted vaccines will not be stopped from entering the North.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/eu-backtracks-on-decision-to-block-supply-of-vaccines-to-northern-ireland-40028406.html

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WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2021

Interesting. I’m no knee-jerk critic of the EU, but nor am I in the tank either. I think it is absolutely necessary to hold them to account on stuff like this. The NI Protocol is not to be toyed with in this way. As you say SoS I hope the govt learns a bit of a lesson about this.

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WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2021

BTW, I have conflicted feelings re the whole AZ thing. Yes, they were clearly sharp elbowing the EU, but I also dislike the response from the EU to the UK about this. I would have thought a better approach was to see that there was some degree of sharing even if that mean the numbers of individual doses was lesser for both than expected.

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Bartholomew - January 30, 2021

Does that €1.78bn include funding by national governments, or is that the central Brussels funding alone? Health was generally a member state responsibility up until now, although the pandemic has begun to change that. The French government gave €800m in funding for vaccines, IIRC.

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WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2021

I’m reading more about this – one interesting factor is that the UK will have paid more for vaccines than the EU both for costs and indeminifications – as well as which the EU has put vaccines thru a more robust though slower because more robust assessment process. So amounts spent do not per de necessarily represent evidence of greater concern or effort.

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Francis Donohoe (@FDonohoe) - January 29, 2021

It’s all gone rather wrong for the EU, I would be a great critic of it and believe that many of the decisions made by our ‘leaders’ are due to their loyalty (future jobs for them and their kin) and status when they get to hobnob in Brussels rather than the public interest. The UK has always been a leading pharma country now that advantage is expected to be given away to a bloc which basically threatened it over its decision to leave it, it shows Brussels to be what it is – a bureaucracy that has over reached itself as it did with Greece, its not going to last and our strategic interests lie in a relationship with it that does not fetishise it – unfortunately the Eurocrats of FG and FF are not capable to having a such a relationship with it.

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CL - January 30, 2021

” In a statement this evening, the European Commission said the Northern Ireland Protocol will be “unaffected” by its plans to put limits on vaccines leaving the EU.
“The commission is not triggering the safeguard clause,” it added, signifying that the controversial Article 16 would not be invoked. ”
https://www.thejournal.ie/arlene-foster-astrazeneca-supply-northern-ireland-protocol-5339702-Jan2021/

” Government ministers from Japan and Korea have attacked the vaccine nationalism of the European Union, urging the bloc not to adopt export controls on COVID-19 vaccines and urging international cooperation….
https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/davos-2021

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WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2021

“to a bloc which basically threatened it over its decision to leave it, ”

I think that’s an exaggeration. Let’s be clear. This evening the EU did overreach itself. But there was a clear push back from London, Belfast and most importantly Dublin. Now would you think London would be quite as receptive and responsive to a pushback from Belfast, let alone Dublin? This isn’t to paint the EU as wonderful, but simply to note that the UK is no picnic in terms of centralised control.

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CL - January 30, 2021

” .In a tweet late on Friday night, von der Leyen said she spoke to Martin “to agree on a satisfactory way to introduce an export mechanism for COVID vaccines.” But that only raised a question of why she hadn’t consulted the Irish leader before the Commission published its export regulations earlier in the day….
An official in contact with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the EU’s top Brexit experts were not consulted on the decision to trigger the override provision and were stunned to learn about it. The official suggested von der Leyen and her cabinet were directly responsible….
The Commission’s mistake was particularly glaring because its trade department is now led by Sabine Weyand, who was one of the EU’s top negotiators on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and is well-versed in the political volatility surrounding the protocol on Northern Ireland. Trade officials said the blunder was caused by concerns among EU health officials that Northern Ireland could become a hub for illicit shipments of vaccine to the U.K. from the EU.
Officials said the triggering of Article 16 was probably unnecessary in the first place because there aren’t stocks of vaccine in Ireland to be shipped anywhere….
The chaotic developments on Friday night were a serious embarrassment for von der Leyen, who is already facing some criticism over the EU’s uneven handling of its vaccine strategy.”
https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-drops-irish-border-plan-coronavirus-vaccine-exports/

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 30, 2021

An absolute own-goal by the European Commission (not ‘the EU’). I’m amazed that von der Leyen didn’t spot it before they went public, and didn’t consult Barnier’s people, who would have set them straight.

That said they U-turned pretty quickly.

And of course the DUP made hay. The only good thing is that I think the EC will now have the Northern Ireland protocol impressed upon their memories.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

+1

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15. Francis Donohoe (@FDonohoe) - January 30, 2021

On the vaccines I believe Nicola Sturgeon needs to not overplay her hand with her pro-EU sentiment, the attempt to hijack UK vaccine supplies will play to many as an attempt to undermine the NHS, which has overseen the vaccine roll out to great success, no EU state has such a public institution overseeing its healthcare, all having some sort of insurance company models or past fractured approaches due to religion – if the Tories have any sense, which they probably do not, they would raise the NHS once again as the beacon of the British State, its the one thing that can keep it hanging together. Also, in this I do not mean that the UK has the best health service but the position of the NHS as a ‘national treasure’ is, to the best of my knowledge not replicated in any other State – if it is please inform me.

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WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2021

That’s an interesting point, but is the NHS valued elsewhere in the way that it is in Britain, and what about the manner in which the Tories have made great hay over the ‘wonderful NHS’ as they none too stealthily wreck other parts of the UKs social dispensation, and from the 1980s on.

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sonofstan - January 30, 2021

“no EU state has such a public institution overseeing its healthcare, all having some sort of insurance company models or past fractured approaches due to religion”
I was thinking about that actually: I’m confident that when my turn in the queue comes, my GP practice will contact me and bring me in for a vaccination: I’ve enough experience with other routine things that roll out automatically as I age to be sure about this. I have to say, I’d be less confident about it in Ireland.

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WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2021

Interesting you should say that – and I don’t disagree, but I see there’s a row now between who should lead the vaccine rollout in the ROI, pharmacists (who apparently do a lot of the flu vaccines) or GPs.

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Francis Donohoe (@FDonohoe) - January 30, 2021

If a may overreach my metaphors a little (if that is even the correct term) comparing the NHS with healthcare in Ireland is like comparing the New Model Army with a band of tories (the later unclear if they’re there to push the agenda of your care or just make money out of you) – the sad thing is that due to the relentless attacks not he NHS from the Tory media many UK people are unaware of what they have until they get ill aboard, particularly in the US or Ireland.

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sonofstan - January 30, 2021

@FD,

I’ve recent experience of both the NHS and the public system in Ireland – the comparison isn’t as stark as you make out, and healthcare in Ireland can be excellent once you get into the system – but the two-tiers, and the inbuilt unfairness of it negates a lot of the good things.
The NHS is beautiful in its simplicity, but not universally excellent either: mostly as a result of Tory cuts, but not always – nearly 20 years ago – during the Blair years – I brought someone to a hospital in Essex and the whole experience was shockingly bad and upsetting.

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Francis Donohoe (@FDonohoe) - January 30, 2021

@SOS yes what you say is true, but when it comes to public health measures the HSE is disastrous, cervical smears etc, it is inherently organisationally a mess (I’ve had several dealings on that side of it and I’m still shocked) the hope is that this situation could be used a leverage to clean it out but it hasn’t provided that. It also costs more to have this failed health service where the vultures of private practice use the public system as their cash cow. The ethos of medical care in Ireland is just wrong (in that I’m not attacking individual doctors etc but there is an ethos of flash cars, big houses, rugby schools etc which is the culture of an important sector of our health care providers which I do not get from people I know associated with the NHS). I think we can say the underlying socialist ethos and national service of the NHS is not something that should be underplayed when compared to a system here where money (either making it of lack of) is everywhere.

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sonofstan - January 30, 2021

” It also costs more to have this failed health service where the vultures of private practice use the public system as their cash cow”

+1000

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WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2021

That’d be my experience too SoS, once in the ROI system is very good, and interestingly I know someone who was in the private system a year or two back and it was rubbish here. But getting in can be tricky. And there’s the issue of upfront payment for dr’s bills. And as FD notes the issue of consultants… 😦

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Fergal - January 31, 2021

For private healthcare to thrive public healthcare mustn’t … it really is as simple as that… why would people ‘go private’ if the public one was excellent?
Agree with World below, once in the Irish system is quite good.
Good points about the NHS made here… but what other European healthcare system, apart from ours, has so waiting lists?

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EWI - January 31, 2021

On the vaccines I believe Nicola Sturgeon needs to not overplay her hand with her pro-EU sentiment, the attempt to hijack UK vaccine supplies will play to many as an attempt to undermine the NHS

This is not what has happened. What has actually gone on is that the UK is taking AZ vaccine production promised to the EU, including some manufactured EU member states.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

Isn’t that the dispute, who really has rights to the vaccine, it’s unclear but the company is giving product to the UK and the EU is trying to take some of that either legally or in another’s view illegally.

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EWI - January 31, 2021

Isn’t that the dispute, who really has rights to the vaccine, it’s unclear but the company is giving product to the UK and the EU is trying to take some of that either legally or in another’s view illegally

The EU has a written agreement with AZ on vaccine supplies, which the EU paid money over in respect of (funding the research), which AZ is now reneging on and instead giving large parts of the vaccine output – including from production capacity in the EU – to the UK instead. These are the facts.

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sonofstan - January 31, 2021

The UK also has an agreement. The problem is that AZ do not have the supplies to honour both.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

Of all people Lucinda Creighton actually articulated it pretty well while not letting the EC off the hook.

“The actions of AstraZeneca have been branded a disgrace. Does its claim that the “best reasonable efforts” clause contained in its contract with the bloc places no real obligations on it stand up? Surely the function of such a clause, in the context of the vaccine that was in development, allowed for the practical reality that the vaccine, through no fault of the company or its academic partners, Oxford University, might not work, or might not be deemed safe in a timely fashion by the various regulatory authorities.This would allow for flexibility around the vaccine trial and approval process, which is essential for an entirely new product. However, Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, has suggested that it allowed the company to pick and choose which contracts it would honour based on the geographic location of its individual production plants, or on its commitments to other governments.If there were problems with production and supply, AstraZeneca cannot decide that there is a hierarchy of contracts, or that it will honour commitments to one contracting party but not another. This appears to fly in the face of the legal obligations of the company to make its best efforts to deliver the vaccine on time and in agreed quantities.
It has done the opposite by arbitrarily deciding not to do so, while at the same time fully meeting its commitments to deliver vaccines to Britain. This is despite the fact that the published contract makes clear that the EU/AstraZeneca contract cannot be negated by any other third party obligations.”

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

BTW, the obvious solution in such an instance is for AZ to be willing to fulfil both contracts to some degree – but, there’s another angle which is that the UK has paid top dollar for the vaccines and likely waived indemnity so AZ likely feels more beholden to the UK.

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EWI - January 31, 2021

Worth noting that ‘Pascal’ rhymes with ‘rascal’.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

The UK passed it for use quicker, it is a partly UK company and it has core supply chain connections with the UK. I’m neither London or Brussels on this, if ever there was ever a case for a state or suprastate led approach to the vaccine issue here it is – capitalism is just being capitalism on this and I won’t be playing a UK or EU national card on this – if the EU had taken a less neoliberal approach to vaccine production this would not have happened- this approach is undermining the vaccine as a solution which needs to be rolled out globally in a manner which lessens the likelihood of novel strains appearing that are vaccine resistant, this approach is nearly guaranteed to produce such an outcome, our only hope? China takes a global humane approach, not out of pure altruism but the wish to bring this to an end and the development of new markets and connections- that we as socialists are getting drawn into taking sides in a dispute which is a system’s failure in a system we know is cuput is not worthwhile in my view.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

And if I was to take sides 😁 the EU had a contract that it was preordering the vaccines for delivery after approval, the UK approved first and is further along in its contract, pulling the supply from UK means disruption of actual progressing supply the same was not true of the EU. I wouldn’t like to be dependent on Europhile Creighton as my corporate lawyer on this, one contract had been fully actioned the other had not, I think that’s viable defence for AZ actions which of course will also have been influenced by the mullah as WBS indicates.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

Very final tuppence on this. We have to neoliberal blocs fighting over this, the UK is likely to soon have an over supply of vaccine, one million of our people are proud UK citizens/subjects we have a ‘unique’ history with that state, should we not be seeking to negotiate a supply from the UK? Not pleading for it but it’s just utilising our particular advantages? Of course our conservative political class will have none of it, just as they won’t use our geographical advantages to pursue solutions, why? Blind loyalty to the bureaucrats of the EU and their own future job prospects.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

It’s interesting that re the faster acceptance by UK regulatory authorities. That’s a bit of a bet that all is well. One reason the EMA was more circumspect was due to antivax resistance to vaccines on the part of some people in Europe and the need to ensure that as many people would buy into its use as was possible by knowing it was safe. It is true that many people have been vaccinated, but…unfortunately only the first dose in most cases. Obviously Creighton isn’t to be taken as read, though she’s notably less europhile than she once was, indeed has made it part of her schtick since she left FG. But I think if we’re saying one is neoliberal they’re all neoliberal. And in fairness to the EU they did push back an effort by the ‘core’ group of states (France, Germany and a number of others) to buy vaccines amongst themselves ahead of other EU states.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

Surely if that was the case ‘job prospects etc’ they’d be jumping to get them from London (if we’re just talking about neoliberal blocs what’s the difference between them)? And given that very very fast regulatory acceptance I’d be deeply cautious of waving in UK sourced vaccines.

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sonofstan - January 31, 2021

“And given that very very fast regulatory acceptance I’d be deeply cautious of waving in UK sourced vaccines”

It’s exactly the same vaccine the EU passed last Friday isn’t it?

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

But with some important caveats – first and foremost that AZ appears to be potentially less effective for those over 65. So a longer period of assessment isn’t just some EU perversity but actually has a point to it.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

“The jobs” – Brussels is the career path for our politicos now, elected reps, some union leaders etc, yes in another time London and the Empire would have provided the very same, still when they didn’t have the big jobs aboard to get they just ripped us off more, Haughey etc, as you may have picked up I have a very low opinion of our ‘political class’.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

As do we all! Or many of them anyhow. But by the same logic why wouldn’t they cosy up to Britain if it was quite as clear cut as you suggest? If they’re that easily bought and sold? And presumably with a Britain more than willing to splash the cash given its need to regain a global prominence?

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

It’s the career path – Leo V will end up on the Commission, as you know it’s a more complex that simply bought or sold but not that more complicated. They’re on team Europe now, to me team UK and team EU are all Tories at the end of the day, team China less so.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

One party authoritarian state isn’t my idea of progress. But we’ll just have to differ on that.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

Very same vaccine developed mainly by Oxford University researchers who, like the Russians, were already working on Coronavirus vaccines prior to Covid-19. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss German chauvinism having a role to play in the lack of speed in the EU approval of it. All this said the vaccines, particularly in the way there being rolled out, are not the end of this and in a few months time people will probably be wondering why there was such an argument over all this.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 31, 2021

No, sorry, it had nothing to do with ‘German chauvinism’ – the German govt have been trying to hurry the European Medicines Agency (EMA) along since early January.

However the EMA wanted more data on what was basically a botched trial by AZ. Compared with the Moderna and Biontech vaccines they had to chase AZ for data, and when then got it it was harder to interpret than that from the clean trials of the other two vaccines.

All in all, despite slower initial delivery and arguably bad contract drafting, I’m happy that this was a EU-wide procurement process, because it means that no country in western Eurasia outside Brexitania will get preferential access. Without EU procurement smaller countries like Ireland and Lithuania would have been at the back of the queue. Instead we are all getting pro-rata supplies.

And we are not indulging in the dangerous and propagandistic numbers game gamble of single doses of a two-dose regime of vaccination.

AZ took a good deal of EU money up front and have now said effectively ‘FU – Brits first!’.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

Didn’t say progress, but moves to a different agenda, one longer less short term profit orientated, put it this way a centralised effective Empire would probably be a better mode of organisation to deal with a crisis like this than a bureaucracy enthral to market fundamentalism – modes of organisation have real effects, the EU in my view, since the end of the social Europe phase, is both inefficient and inequitable.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

That comment in reply to WBS re China.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

Don’t think you’re comparing like with like. And if it’s not progress what’s the point?

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16. CL - January 30, 2021

” After being pilloried for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Johnson finds himself in the unusual position of having manoeuvred Britain into the position of being a global leader in the purchase and distribution of vaccines….
Britain now has orders for 367m doses of seven different vaccines in production or development….
The UK has vaccinated more than 10 per cent of adults, compared with the EU’s 2 per cent, and encouraging results from two more trials this week raised hopes that vaccines by Novavax and Johnson & Johnson could come on stream in Britain later this year….
The UK’s successful vaccines effort is rooted in the development of a life sciences industrial strategy over the past four years, which ensured that the country had the infrastructure and connections to deliver innovative vaccines when the pandemic struck, according to the head of its biotech body….
Cutting-edge science being developed at Oxford university’s Jenner Institute and Imperial College London, among others, meant “we had some discovery capacity but we knew we needed innovation in turning those scientific ideas into manufacturable vaccines,” said Steve Bates, chief executive of the BioIndustry Association, ”
https://www.ft.com/content/9798f0c1-1712-442e-a795-518c39a9e418

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 30, 2021

Once more: The UK has only given a single dose of a vaccine designed to be given as a two-dose course to 10% of its population. He probably achieved this by pressuring Astra Zeneca to divert some of the vaccine due to the EU to the UK.

How effective a single dose will be, especially for older people, is very much unknown. Johnson is conducting a medical trial on all of the UK, on the basis of a wing and a prayer. He is also thereby creating favourable conditions for immune escape by and evolving

The vector virus produced by Astra Zeneca was not as well tested as the mRNA viruses produced by Biontech and Moderna. That’s why it took so long for the EMA to make up its mind. Inadequate data and partly botched trials.

And I suspect we won’t know the real data on the AZ vaccine until the results of Johnson’s trial on the UK come out, if we get access to those numbers.

My sense is that the mRNA technique is the real breakthrough with plenty of – due to work done by a Hungarian scientist originally, and developed further in the US and Germany.

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17. Jim Monaghan - January 30, 2021

All of this, good or bad, makes a Services Deal between Britain and the EU difficult or impossible.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 30, 2021

Yes I can’t see that being on anyone’s priority list outside the UK.

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18. Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 30, 2021

BTW – does anyone know if Biden has recinded Trumps ban on the the US exporting Covid19 vaccine?

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CL - January 31, 2021

” The United States is joining international efforts to ensure COVID-19 vaccines and treatments reach countries around the world.
President Biden on January 21 directed the U.S. government to join the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility. The international initiative seeks to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines and fairly distribute 2 billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2021″
https://ge.usembassy.gov/biden-bolsters-u-s-support-for-covid-19-vaccinations-abroad/

“President Joe Biden will remain in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and join the group’s COVAX scheme, a global initiative that aims to ensure equal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Former US President Donald Trump cut ties with the WHO in May 2020, calling the group “China-centric,” and the US was officially set to leave in July 2021. Trump cited the same reasons for refusing to join COVAX. ”
https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-join-who-world-health-organization-covax-vaccine-trump-2021-1

” South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged wealthier countries to end COVID-19 vaccine nationalism.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda on Tuesday, Ramaphosa, who is also the chair of the African Union, spoke out against rich countries hoarding vaccine doses — acquiring enough to vaccinate their populations several times over, in some cases.

Meanwhile, among the world’s low-income countries, just one so far has been able to acquire any vaccines — with Guinea reportedly able to immunise 25 people.”
https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/south-africa-ramaphosa-rich-vaccine-nationalism/

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 31, 2021

Plenty of promises – but has a single dose of vaccine manufactured in the USA been exported? That’s my question.

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19. CL - January 31, 2021

” There is a true coach-crash quality to the EU’s reaction to being outfoxed by the UK on vaccine procurement….
As for the outfoxer, I offer a 21-syringe salute to Kate Bingham, whose brilliantly performing vaccine taskforce contrasts dramatically with the 10 months of total ignominy that has characterised the rest of the government response to the pandemic…
For now, it’s hard not to wince at reports the EU could block millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine from entering Britain. Let’s hope this is a conflict that de-escalates in a hurry, and not the shape of things to come. After the past few years around the globe, it’s such a tribute to the human spirit that we can still discover new types of nationalism. The latest variant is vaccine nationalism, which – like all the other nationalisms – is grim and ends badly.”
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/29/nationalism-vaccine-mutation-uk-eu

” Boris Johnson never passes an opportunity to boast that the UK has “the fastest vaccination programme in Europe”. For once, he makes a brag that is true – at least for the moment. The UK has to date got around 8m jabs into people’s arms, far more than France, where there is intensifying national angst about why its programme is so slow….

The vaccination programme allows him to sound a bit more plausible when he talks about an escape to freedom thanks to the genius of British science and the excellence of the NHS….
Tory strategists ….reckon that a successful vaccination programme will induce voters to forget the government’s contribution to all the distress and death that came before it. The challenge for the Tories’ opponents will be stopping Boris Johnson from getting away with this.”
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/31/the-bad-taste-question-about-covid-that-everyone-at-westminster-is-asking

An EU ‘nationalism’ ?

Germany, and possibly Italy, are demurring from the EMA’s recommendation for giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to over 65s.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 31, 2021

Demuring because of the poor quality of trials conducted by AZ in the over 65s. It might well work, (especially if you give a person both doses of the vaccine at the right interval :-)) and let’s hope it does.

More information may well emerge from the UK once they get round to *giving two doses of the AZ* vaccine to a significant cohort of the over-65s. So far they haven’t done that. Or collected the data. Or made it public.

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CL - January 31, 2021

I have some difficulty in grasping how the AZ vaccine is effective in someone aged 64yrs and 11 months, but if that person waited another month before inoculation it would be ineffective.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 31, 2021

Well conducted science and medical trials work from evidence rather than assumptions like that. That evidence is thin in the case of AZ’s vaccine and the over 65s. All kinds of surprising differences occur between population types, classes, sexes and age-groups, when you look for them. That’s why good vaccine trials include all age-cohorts if what you want is a universal adult vaccine.

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CL - January 31, 2021

That’s reasonable. But the age cohort division is somewhat arbitrary. Why not 70 rather than 65, for example.

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CL - January 31, 2021

” Germany secured 30 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine in September, violating the EU’s vaccination strategy banning countries from conducting parallel negotiations….
Less than two hours before Kautz’s statement, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that countries cannot sign separate deals….
Since June, von der Leyen has billed the vaccination strategy as a beacon of EU solidarity. All member countries agreed to purchase doses together in order to increase the bloc’s negotiating power and ensure equal access. The promise became a reality — mostly — as almost all countries began vaccinating on December 27.
But news of Germany’s extra deal with BioNTech (and another with CureVac) has fueled EU anger, adding to the criticism Berlin is receiving on its own turf, and revealing the first crack in the country’s vaccination strategy — even if the deal happened back in September to little fanfare….
The Commission, in response, has largely refused to acknowledge Germany’s contradictory actions.”
https://www.politico.eu/article/germanys-coronavirus-vaccine-side-deal-at-odds-with-legally-binding-eu-pact/

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 31, 2021

Yes, that’s fair. It’s hypocritical and underhand. So if it goes through it’s likely that Germany will be vaccinated before the rest of the EU.

Not a good look if you’re genuinely concerned with EU solidarity.

The context was that I think France demanded as much public no-risk investment as Germany from the EU. Germany got wind that the French R&D was going nowhere and got in some insurance orders.

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20. Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 31, 2021

We’re in this place because of the interworking of capitalism and nationalism. Pharma concerns get to call the shots because of confidential competitive contracts between them and nations / supra-national entities like the EU.

A socialist public health infrastrucure would see publicly owned and transparently controlled research and flexible production infrastructure in every region sharing public domain knowledge and technology. It would be coordinated not for profit by and organisation like the WHO. Competetive approaches would be encouraged in terms of the science and technology, but in the case of a pandemic the best available techniques (ATM mRNA and vector vaccines) would be immediately ramped up at production facilites in every region that were otherwise engaged in ‘standard’ vaccine production or kept on ice in case of pandemic.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

Spot on, I in my naivety I thought this crisis would force them to partly adopt such an approach. What we’re seeing is capitalist ideology undermining capitalist economic production, just another contradiction I suppose.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 31, 2021

Well to be fair it wasn’t all bad DS.

Once the Chinese authorities were compelled to take the outbreak seriously the sharing of infomation globally was exemplary, with the virus being sequenced within weeks and a PCR test for its detection being produced within weeks and the PCR test protocol being made publicly available.

China went in hard and stopped the spread and other countries like in Australasia showed that Zero Covid is a viable strategy.

Also there was a lot of work already done on SARS-COV1 and MERS that could be and was reused. And the fact that vector vaccines and (unprecedented) mRNA vaccines were produced and trialed within a year was truly remarkable. The technology happened to be ripe at the right time. All this was done in the context of capitalism overlayed with global cooperation encouraged by the WHO and global scientific and medical culture and funded at the level of the nation state and the EU.

Where it really fell down was the outsourcing of production to private companies of the basis of secret competitive contracts, rather than one big order from, say the WHO, with pro-rata population distribution accross the world. This meant that no-one had an overview of efficient distribution of production. Or in this case over-production on the basis that many attempts at a vaccine would probably fail.

There was no need for that, other than ideology. The public was putting up the funds and should have had full control. Remember in this case companies were being offered a no-loss contract. Sanofi, for instance, will not be out of pocket even though it’s attempt at a vaccine failed.

Capitalist production can’t be relied upon to do anything other than circulate capital and accumulate profits whatever the cost, so important sectors like public health should be taken out of that form of production.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

You said it, that’s why I’m so defensive of the NHS, it remains an under fire, stressed and declining reservoir of the kind of humane, public good orientated institution which points not only to a more effective delivery of health services but also wider form of organisation. People can criticise China all they like but in this crisis it has shown a socialist approach remains in some of its institutions, I think this crisis will hopefully empower the Worker and Peasant wing of the CP and other socialist strands still evident in that state.

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

But why reify China? To me their approach made sense not due to ideology but because it made sense. And I don’t think it was driven by ideology though perhaps by an ability to organise in this specific context due to stricter and more authoritarian approaches (as well as some exposure to viruses in the past). Or to put it another way why put the NHS and China in the same bag when you could as easily put NZ and Australia in the same bag with the NHS – which by the by for all its many virtues wasn’t actually a communist entity or driven by communists but traditional social democrats (and the odd liberal or two). And surely we could take your second last sentence and argue ‘People can criticise NZ/Australia all they like but in this crisis they have show a socialist approach remains in some of their institutions’. Like it works precisely the same. Which suggests that it’s not ideology as such, though that has a hand, but a willingness by political leaders to face the facts, the science, and to deal with it. And in that sense I strongly respect the PRC approach, and that of NZ and Australia and other states who did likewise who rather than shying away from that science read the implications and went for the obvious basic approach that would work.

Now that brings us back to the EU and twourther factors. The precise reason why the EU was slower was because it wanted all EU member states onboard on vaccine procurement. This took time. And as I noted before France and Germany and a couple of others sought to work together outside of the EU structures before the EU was able to bring them onside (incidentally I think AZ actually had a contract with that sub-group signed a month after the UK, not sure what happened to it).The idea being that if the EU as a whole worked together then vaccines would be doled out proportionately. That remains the situation. So arguably the EU example is one of slow but actual efforts to generate some solidarity and equality on this area between multiple states.

But another factor in all this is the US. Under Trump any genuine transnational approach (outside the EU or other entities) was a none starter – particularly one led by WHO. So it was back to everyone fending for themselves. In fairness too the EU did ask the UK did they want to work with them, so it’s not a case of the UK being left out either. And I agree strongly Klassenkampf’s point re the lack of transparency in contracts etc.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

I point to China because when comes to a global response it is most likely now to take the lead. Oz and NZ and other states have adopted good responses but they can only be examples not global leaders. I think we will soon be hearing all sorts of stories relating to the need to counter China creepage into Africa, South American and elsewhere on the back of vaccine programmes and other interventions which are just the sort of stuff the world needs. It’s the sort of stuff the US did post 45 (in a manner which benefited it and other countries) and I would say the USSR did in an even more beneficial manner during the 60s/70s. China is the only state which can now take up the mantle to assist other countries in a manner the US and EU ideologies will no longer allow them. Imagine this had happened prior to neoliberalism victory in the EU bureaucracy, it seemed to be developing into such an entity which would move from just a concept of internal regional development programmes to one that could similarly assist globally, it is no longer that entity which seeks (like the USSR) to develop the periphery even at the expense of the core but is behaving on the diktats of a form of supranationalism and neoliberal ideology. China’s rise is going to ask questions of us all, I certainly won’t be falling into any simplistic condemnation of it and think that it may herald in a better global future than that offered by it not taking the lead, Covid-19 is likely to be such a watershed moment- it will be enough for Biden to get the US on track.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

Also, ideology is key to the ability of China to allow for a scientific based approach, that the ideology of the US and EU has failed to fully allow this is the key issue in question. Surely you agree that ‘sense’ is created by ideology – as I think it was Gramsci stated (I maybe wrong and it was Althusser or another) – there is no fully ideological statement that one that is referred to as “common sense” – it was common sense to allow Pharma companies to compete in a race to fund the cheapest most easily delivered vaccine for the EU etc, it’s common sense for NPHET to say Ireland is to open an economy for zero covid – of course these are loaded with ideological content.

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dublinstick - January 31, 2021

* “there is no more fully ideological statement than one referee to as common sense”

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WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2021

When I read something along the lines of ‘the EU or a.n.other won’t/can’t do this’ I’m always dubious. They may not, but then again they may. But what actual example can you point to of the PRC’s approach to Covid being adopted elsewhere as a conscious emulation? No state that I’m aware of, even amongst those that are allied in one fashion or another seem to be following its lead as far as I’m aware, I’m open to correction, and who is likely to be ‘led’ by it as such? I’d have thought a more likely way this plays out is that the US re-engaging with WHO begins to take a lead in respect of assisting others, etc. I’ve already noted that the EU response is not quite as you characterise it (and don’t take my word for it – this politico piece notes that solidarity amongst member states was part of the reason for the EC/EU’s various approaches https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-coronavirus-vaccine-struggle-pfizer-biontech-astrazeneca/ ). What it seems to me in this reification of China is to say, because it has a certain weight therefore that inevitably carries over in multiple ways to make it de facto leader. I’m not sure that’s entirely correct.

Further the ideology of the PRC is not exactly undistorted by elites and pressures within the system, etc, etc. I mean on a range of fronts – climate change etc, there are contradictions within the PRC as to how to move froward, and those are very clearly inflected by competing ideologies and elites. I’m not going to condemn the PRC simplistically, but I certainly think that critical analysis is entirely reasonable and the idea of reifying it seems premature.

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terrymdunne - February 1, 2021

The virus comes from the PRC. Not a minor detail.

In the early days the response of the Wuhan authorities presaged the Cheltenham model.

The successfulness of the subsequent response of the PRC was not particular to that state but was one shared with, and indeed exceeded by, a wide range of its neighbours (though with different sets of policies) — including those states which were its bitterest Cold War rivals – Taiwan and South Korea — arguably Taiwan was much more on the ball.

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CL - January 31, 2021

This is not capitalism as usual.

NYC has undertaken a massive public vaccination campaign. 160 vaccination sites are operating across the city, with mega-facilities open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, workers on 12 hr shifts.

All depends on adequate and timely supply.

Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to gear up production.
“The DPA provides the President with a toolkit for increasing the production and supply of critical supplies during a national crisis.”
https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/covid-19-the-biden-administration-s-8150345/

The race now is to sufficiently curtail virus spread and replication so as to mitigate the evolution of variant, vaccine-resistant strains.

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Alibaba - February 1, 2021

China can be credited with an adept response to the virus when it identified the genetic sequence in the RNA of the virus quickly and made the information public. But I daresay this happened because the virus first came to notice in its regime – a one party regime that has autocratic powers to make things happen while tolerating no obstacles whatsoever.

Other notable factors in the development of vaccines are the lessons learned from SARS-COV1 and MERS as mentioned, but also that big funding was granted immediately because of projected pandemic health and economic costs. Vaccine trials began straight away.  Studies attracted large numbers of volunteers and research data was collected electronically etc.

Much can be done in the context of capitalism while being marred by competitive practices of pharmaceutical companies and political shenanigans. It’s also true that responses can be done all the quicker now under pressure to mitigate the effects of the more transmissible coronavirus variants.

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21. CL - February 1, 2021

” Britain will prioritise offering spare vaccines to Ireland once stocks are secured for the UK jab rollout…
Ministers are examining sharing vaccines with other countries in order “to protect us and the rest of the world” as soon as supplies for the domestic vaccination programme are assured, a Government source said. “The Common Travel Area falls into that category,” the source added. “If Ireland was still experiencing shortfalls, we absolutely would.”
In the wake of a row with the EU about vaccine supplies which on Friday saw the bloc forced to climb down from plans to impose a border on the island of Ireland, Boris Johnson said he wants Europe and the rest of the world to receive vaccinations “at the same time”….

Ireland is considered a priority because it shares a land border with Northern Ireland. The Brexit talks established that the island of Ireland was a “single epidemiological unit” for the purpose of animal health and welfare, and Government insiders believe the same logic applies to human health….
The UK is eventually set to have a surplus of stock, having ordered 367 million doses of vaccine from seven different developers although not all have been approved so far ”
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/01/31/britain-give-ireland-priority-sharing-covid-vaccines/

” Almost 600,000 people in the UK were vaccinated against Covid-19 on Saturday, a daily record for the vaccine programme.”
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/31/daily-record-as-600000-people-in-the-uk-receive-covid-jabs-on-saturday

Number of vaccination doses administered per 100 residents:

Israel 52.3 Jan 30,

UK 13.3 Jan 29,

US 8.9 Jan 30,

Ireland 3.3 Jan 27.

Germany 2.8 Jan 29,
-FT.

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EWI - February 1, 2021

Israel 52.3 Jan 30

Presumably this isn’t counting Palestinians in the occupied territories, who are being denied vaccines while the settlers get them.

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sonofstan - February 1, 2021

Depressingly true.
The good-ish news is that the vaccination programme there – for those ethnically qualified – seems to be working.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/31/israel-covid-vaccination-data-offers-hope-exit-pandemic

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22. CL - February 1, 2021

” Europe is facing a vaccine disaster….
Europe, one of the most affluent regions in the world, is proving to be unable to quickly protect its citizens from a deadly disease, while other countries are showing how it is done…
von der Leyen finds herself in an extremely difficult situation. The next several weeks could decide her political future….
Negotiations with vaccine producers bogged down, and it wasn’t until November that the EU was able to reach a purchase agreement with BioNTech/Pfizer and with Moderna, the manufacturers of the two most successful vaccines thus far introduced. The EU negotiating team, according to people familiar with the talks, was intent on pushing down the price. There was also allegedly an extended disagreement on liability issues, particularly with Pfizer…..
While others simply acted with expedience and placed huge orders, the EU – right in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century – decided to bargain like they were at the bazaar….
It took the Commission until the end of August to forge an agreement with AstraZeneca on the delivery of up to 400 million vaccine doses – way too long, believes Spahn’s Health Ministry in Berlin. And they feel justified in their dissatisfaction, particularly when they look across the English Channel, where the freshly Brexited UK is doing quite well with its vaccination program, having placed its order three months earlier.”
https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/europe-s-vaccine-disaster-commission-president-ursula-von-der-leyen-seeking-to-duck-responsibility-a-1197547d-6219-4438-9d69-b76e64701802

” The EU’s failure to deliver Covid-19 vaccines at pace is a major political scandal…
Much of the blame lies with the European Commission — which, over the summer, persuaded the EU’s 27 member states to co-ordinate their vaccine drives and to put the commission itself in charge….

Faced with a massive health emergency, the commission lacked the in-house expertise to meet the challenge of vaccine procurement. Officials in Brussels moved with excessive caution, haggling over prices and contracts, while the US, Israel and the UK raced ahead….

the European Commission’s incompetence has, perhaps temporarily, reshaped the Brexit debate in Britain — making Mr Johnson’s arguments that the UK is better off outside the EU look more credible. Covid-19 almost killed Mr Johnson. But it has now handed him a political lifeline.”
https://www.ft.com/content/6bd192b4-6f7a-4df1-a484-1853bb054ba5

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23. CL - February 1, 2021

” Ms. McGuinness said she did sign off on the offending legal language late Friday, along with all the other 25 European commissioners, but several E.U. officials noted that commissioners had only been given about half an hour to review multiple pages of dense technical text and approve it late Friday. It was highly unlikely anyone would notice the invocation of the special Brexit clause unless they’d been previously warned it was there, they said….
And Ms. von der Leyen’s decision to drive policy from the shadows with a tiny group of confidantes, while seeming to throw subordinates under the bus when things went wrong, was not judged kindly by observers, either….
“It reflects incredibly poorly on Ursula von der Leyen, she took over this portfolio and made a complete mess of it. There’s no redeeming factor in the way the commission has acted in the last couple weeks and she needs to own it,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund and of the Peterson Institute in Brussels.

“The egg is on her face, and she can’t wipe it off on the health commissioner,” he added.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/01/world/europe/

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WorldbyStorm - February 1, 2021

Interesting analyses, but then again so is this, from RN.

http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87869

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CL - February 2, 2021

The DUP over reacted. But the ‘narrative’ was not something concocted by the MSM out of whole cloth. There was a rapid and universal condemnation across the political spectrum of the Commission’s invocation of article 16 of the protocol.

The vaccine metrics show that the UK, thanks in large part to the NHS, has managed the vaccine rollout much better than the EU. The UK has taken risks and didn’t spare expense.

The figures for the US, although not great, are also better than for the EU. This despite the political turmoil, and a strong anti-vax movement.
So there is a certain chagrin among EU political leaders.

As North puts it:

“There is a sense, therefore, that vdL has been thrown under a bus which is where she may belong. Spiegel International seems to think so, claiming that the Commission president is seeking to duck responsibility for the EU’s “botched vaccine rollout “.

A beginning has been made, but there is much uncertainty and quite a distance to go before the plague is vanquished. In the meantime political leaders need to be held accountable and their policies scrutinized.

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WorldbyStorm - February 2, 2021

Without question and even putting the protocol forward was cloth eared but, that said, some of the criticisms are unmerited.

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24. Liberius - February 2, 2021

PARIS — The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should be prioritized for people younger than 65, according to recommendations by government advisory bodies in France and Sweden on Tuesday, while Poland set its threshold at 60.

“Currently available data for people aged 65 and over are limited by a small sample size and don’t allow for a conclusion on the safety and the efficacy of the [AstraZeneca] vaccine for this population,” the French national authority for health (HAS) said. “The [AstraZeneca] vaccine is therefore recommended preferentially for health professionals under 65 and people under 65.”

The three countries join Germany and Italy in issuing such recommendations, even though the EU’s regulator cleared the vaccine for all adults.

Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland the following about which you’d wonder what degree of choice people will really have in which vaccine they get, indeed even framing it in that way is a dereliction of duty on the part of NIAC and the government to make firm assessments about suitability based on the currently available data; that shouldn’t be the public’s problem.

Today, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be an option for people over 65 years of age, RTÉ News has confirmed.

The committee met today to further consider the vaccine and has written to the Chief Medical Officer with its recommendations.

German authorities have decided not to use the vaccine in over 65s having raised questions about its efficacy.

The European Medicines Agency approved the vaccine for people aged 18 years and older last week.

The NIAC decision today means that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be considered as an option, along with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and Moderna.

The decision on what vaccine to use by the HSE for over 65s will involve what the patient wants, logistics and the supply of vaccines.

https://www.politico.eu/article/france-sweden-poland-recommend-prioritizing-astrazeneca-vaccine-for-people-younger-than-65/

https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2021/0201/1194307-coronavirus-ireland/

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Liberius - February 3, 2021

Moving more into line with their counterparts elsewhere in the EU? Hard really to gamble when others are not, Belgium also decided against use in over-65s.

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WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2021

Saw that re Belgium. Can’t blame them for some caution.

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Liberius - February 3, 2021

Switzerland has gone even further in not giving it authorisation at all.

Swiss regulators have said that data submitted by AstraZeneca is not sufficient for them to authorise use of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine and “new studies” are needed.

The Swissmedic regulatory authority said it had been examining information from AstraZeneca but that was “not yet sufficient to permit authorisation”.

http://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2021/0203/1194735-coronavirus-vaccine/

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25. Klassenkampf Treehugger - February 2, 2021

Meanwhile: I was wrong in my suspicions about the single vaccine dose of AZ being less effective than advertised.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-02-02-oxford-coronavirus-vaccine-shows-sustained-protection-76-during-3-month-interval#

“Analyses reveal single standard dose efficacy from day 22 to day 90 post vaccination of 76% with protection not falling in this three-month period

After the second dose vaccine efficacy from two standard doses is 82.4% with the 3-month interval being used in the UK. (82.4% effective, with a 95% confidence interval of 62.7% – 91.7% at 12+ weeks)

Data supports the 4-12 week prime-boost dosing interval recommended by many global regulators”

Very happy to be proven wrong when it means lives and health will be saved. Good news for the people in the UK and the wider world when the vaccine is distributed there.

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26. Liberius - February 7, 2021

Not entirely promising this, though it is early data.

AstraZeneca said on Saturday that its coronavirus vaccine offered only limited protection against mild cases of the South African variant of the virus. The company based its conclusion on early data from a trial and study released by South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand and Oxford University.

“In this small phase I/II trial, early data has shown limited efficacy against mild disease primarily due to the B.1.351 South African variant,” said an AstraZeneca spokesman.

“However, we have not been able to properly ascertain its effect against severe disease and hospitalization, given that subjects were predominantly young healthy adults. Oxford University and AstraZeneca have started adapting the vaccine against this variant and will advance rapidly through clinical development so that it is ready for Autumn delivery should it be needed,” the company added.

https://m.dw.com/en/coronavirus-digest-astrazeneca-vaccine-has-limited-protection-for-south-african-variant/a-56483819?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

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WorldbyStorm - February 7, 2021

Understandable the hesitation about the vaccine then on the part of others (by which I mean Switzerland etc).

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Liberius - February 7, 2021

In fairness it looks like Switzerland has got a diverse supply of other vaccines on order so Oxford/AZ possibly isn’t quite as important to them as it might be to others, as I linked to earlier in the thread there are EU member states like Latvia & Bulgaria amongst others who aren’t well positioned to use the mRNA vaccines (indeed even here with our inefficient GP private practice model of primary healthcare) with their storage requirements, the political pressure on the EMA to say yes to AstraZeneca would have been higher than on the Swiss regulator.

The Swiss government said it had signed a deal with Germany’s Curevac and the Swedish government for the delivery of 5 million vaccine doses, a preliminary pact with U.S. vaccine maker Novavax for 6 million doses, and secured a further 6 million doses from Moderna.

These new orders bring total Swiss vaccine orders to more than 30 million doses, enough to vaccinate its 8.6 million population about twice over under a two-dose regimen.

https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL8N2K94V1

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27. CL - February 7, 2021

” The first 21,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have arrived in the State and have been delivered to the HSE .
In a tweet Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it was a “big day” as the first doses of the Covid vaccine had come from Belgium. The doses were delivered to the HSE’s national cold chain store in Dublin. Mr Donnelly posted a video showing a refrigerated lorry reversing at the facility. He said the first doses would be given to healthcare workers on Monday.”
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/first-21-000-doses-of-astrazeneca-vaccine-arriving-in-state-is-big-day-donnelly-says-1.4478192

” South Africa has suspended plans to inoculate its front-line health care workers with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a small clinical trial suggested that it isn’t effective in preventing mild to moderate illness from the variant dominant in the country.
South Africa received its first 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week and was expected to begin giving jabs to health care workers in mid-February. The disappointing early results indicate that an inoculation drive using the AstraZeneca vaccine may not be useful.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/south-africa-halts-astrazeneca-vaccine-after-study-questions-effectiveness-against-n1256981

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