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AstraZeneca could have Covid-19 vaccine against variant by 2021 end

Walters blamed challenges - including delivery delays for the AstraZeneca shot in the European Union - on the "complex process" of producing a vaccine

AstraZeneca | Coronavirus Vaccine


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A modified version of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine tailored to combat a variant first documented in South Africa could be ready by the end of 2021, an official in Austria said in an interview published on Sunday.
Sarah Walters, AstraZeneca’s Austria country manager, told the Kurier that studies, so far, indicating the existing vaccine was less effective against the more infectious variant first documented in South Africa were “too small to draw final conclusions”.
“In the meantime, and Oxford University have started on modifications to the vaccine for the South African variant and we expect it will be ready by the end of the year, should it be needed,” Walters said.
Walters blamed challenges — including delivery delays for the AstraZeneca shot in the European Union — on the “complex process” of producing a vaccine, coupled with the extremely high demand arising from the pandemic.
“We had to work without keeping a supply in reserve. As a result, we couldn’t make up for unexpected events,” she said. “We are confident that we will fulfill our commitment to deliver 300 million doses to the European Union this year.”
The Kurier interview did not directly address ongoing investigations into health concerns over the AstraZeneca shot. The EU has put a warning label on the vaccine over its possible linkage to extremely rare blood clots, Denmark has completely halted use of the vaccine and Britain has advised people under 30 to get another brand of vaccine.
Asked about “thousands” of people in Austria who are cancelling their appointments for AstraZeneca shots, Walters said the company’s plan was “to continue to transparently provide information about efficacy and safety to doctors, so that they can adequately inform people” of benefits and risks.

Canada records second case of blood clot
Canadian health authorities said the country has recorded a second case of rare but serious blood clotting linked to AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, but still recommend the shot for use.
The patient, who lives in Alberta and received a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine supplied by the Serum Institute of India, "has received treatment and is recovering," Canadian health authorities wrote on Twitter. Canada reported its first case of blood clotting associated with low platelets on Tuesday in a Quebec woman who received the same shot.
 Israel lifts public mask order, opens schools
Israel on Sunday has lifted a public mask mandate and fully reopened its education system in the latest easing of restrictions following its mass vaccination drive.
Fauci expects decision on J&J shot by Friday
A decision on whether to resume use of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine could come as soon as Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, adding that he would not be surprised if there is a “resumption in some form.”



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First Published: Mon, April 19 2021. 01:17 IST