Costa Rican government signed an agreement with the British-Swedish AstraZeneca for purchasing
one million doses of its candidate vaccine against covid-19.  - AstraZeneca photo -
























Published Friday, November 20, 2020

The third potential covid-19 vaccine
shows successful results


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff ans wire services
 

Thursday brought further good news from the global effort to produce a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes covid-19.

A report published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet says that a potential vaccine developed by British pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the University of Oxford was safe and produced a strong immune response in both younger and older participants.

The two-dose vaccine was given to 560 healthy adult volunteers in a second-stage clinical trial, including 240 volunteers, ages 70-years-old and older. Maheshi Ramasamy, a University of Oxford researcher and co-author of the study, described the antibody and T-cell responses in the older volunteers as “robust.” 

Covid-19 poses the greatest risk for older adults and people with preexisting health conditions. “We hope that this means our vaccine will help protect some of the most vulnerable people in society,” Ramasamy said. He noted that further research still needs to be conducted. The vaccine is currently undergoing final late-stage global clinical trials to prove its ultimate safety and efficacy. 

According to a Voice of America Journal, VOA, report, the data from the Oxford-AstraZeneca Phase 2 trial comes as two U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies report their covid-19 vaccines are more than 90% effective against the virus.

Pfizer announced Wednesday that it will seek emergency approval for the vaccine it has developed in collaboration with Germany’s BioNTech.

Moderna announced earlier this week that its vaccine is nearly 95% effective after an interim analysis of its late-stage study. 

Costa Rican government signed an agreement with the British-Swedish AstraZeneca for purchasing one million doses of its candidate vaccine against covid-19, AZD1222.

According to the government, each dose will be priced at $4, so the estimated price of this purchase is at least $4 million, without including additional distribution costs. Vaccine purchases would be made with funds from the National Emergency Fund that is being used to face the crisis caused by the pandemic.

One million doses will cover half a million people because of two applications, which is the recommended requirement for each person. It is estimated that the vaccine will be available beginning the first quarter of 2021, as long as the ongoing clinical trials are successful and the vaccine is approved by international regulatory organizations.

Phase II / III clinical trials are underway in the United Kingdom, the United States and Brazil. While Phase I / II clinical trials are ongoing in South Africa, Japan, Kenya and Russia, the government said in its statement.

These trials will determine the protection of the vaccine against covid-19, as well as the safety and immune response in up to 50,000 volunteers worldwide.

This agreement is part of Costa Rica's adherence to the COVAX-Facility program, which provides coverage for 1 million people. Also, the recent agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech for the immunization of 1.5 million people. In total, the government hopes to vaccinate more than three of the five million people living in the country.

In October, authorities of the Ministry of Health announced the Pfizer and BioNTech agreement for the purchase of 3 million doses of BNT162b2 vaccine against covid-19. This vaccine is mRNA-based, patented by BioNTech and endorsed by Pfizer, and it will be produced after proving success from clinical studies and regulations.

The cost of these purchased vaccines has not been disclosed due to the commercial confidentiality agreement required by the companies, the government said. The National Emergency Fund is paying for the vaccines, with an estimate of receiving the treatment gradually in the first quarter of 2021. This depends on the clinical success demonstrated in these treatments.

The government joined the COVAX-Facility program coordinated by the World Health Organization, WHO. In the case of COVAX agreement, the first advance payment of $6,316,560 or 30% of the cost was scheduled to be made during October, the government said in its statement. The payment is based on the price that was set by COVAX at $10.55 per dose. The price includes factory costs, access, financing, risk mitigation and operating costs.

COVAX-Facility is led by GAVI-Alliance, which is a private non-profit foundation of the WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund is a United Nations, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda GATES Foundation and the World Bank.

Time is running for scientists in the race to find a cure for covid-19, which continues causing mass global deaths. In Costa Rica, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday the most up-to-date statistics on the evolution of the virus in the country:

1,219 new covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 47,781 active cases

18,929 foreign-born people have been infected with a total of 128,231 cases since March, approximately 14.7% of the total cases. Of these, authorities confirmed the death of 32 foreign-born patients. But since October, there is no updated information about foreign-born deaths due to covid-19.

• 476 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 214 patients are in ICU’s in delicate health conditions (ages range from a 1-year-old to a 90-year-old). And 262 patients are in recovery rooms. Many of the remaining infected patients are quarantined in their homes.

• 78,851 coronavirus patients have fully recovered, which is a 61.5% recovery rate of the total cases since March.

• 363,834 medical covid-19 tests have been made. This according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering of the Johns Hopkins University.

1,599 deaths of people infected with covid-19, approximately 1.2% death rate of the total cases since March. Of these 607 women and 992 men. The ages range from a 9-year-old to a 101-year-old person.

Readers can see the updated number of total patients in each district at the National Distance Education University on its Covid-19 Map.


According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering, CSSE, at Johns Hopkins University, the pandemic has killed 1,359,120 people worldwide.


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What have you heard about your government’s plans for accessibility to the vaccine against covid-19?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com



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