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Seizing the Coronavirus Vaccine: Global Fairness And Safety (1)

Source:Iris Liang Time:2020-9-12 17:30:19

On August 11, 2020, Russia unexpectedly announced that the world's first new crown vaccine "Sputnik-V" has been registered for production. Because the Russian government has not announced the vaccine's Phase I/II clinical trial data, nor has it confirmed whether the Phase III clinical trial is ongoing. Just a day later, the local government of Paraná State in Brazil announced that it had signed a memorandum with Russia to cooperate with Russia in testing and producing "Sputnik-V" in Brazil. In addition, Russia also revealed that it has received preliminary applications for more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine from 20 countries in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

   As of September 8, the new crown epidemic has caused 27.33 million infections and 890,000 deaths worldwide. Among the top ten countries with infection cases, seven are in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Among them, India had 4.28 million confirmed cases, ranking second in the world; Brazil 4.15 million, ranking third in the world. The top ten are followed by Peru, Colombia, South Africa, Mexico and Argentina.

   The outbreaks in Brazil and India are still very pessimistic. Since June, the number of newly diagnosed new crown cases in Brazil has been increasing every day between 20,000 and 50,000. The number of new cases in a single day at the end of July rose to 70,000. On September 6, the number of new cases in the country still exceeded 30000. The number of new cases per day in India has risen from thousands of cases in early June. It surpassed 50,000 for the first time on July 26, and fluctuated upwards since then. The number of new cases exceeded 80,000 on September 6, setting another record.

   The panic buying of "Sputnik-V" by developing countries is actually "a last resort". Several "star vaccines" that are already in clinical Phase III trials, such as the mRNA vaccine from Moderna in the United States and the adenovirus vaccine from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, have already been nearly "snatched up" by developed countries in Europe and the United States with billions of pre-order agreements. The sudden appearance of "Sputnik-V", a "dark horse" that has never been filed before, is tantamount to giving developing countries a chance.

   In the past two months, at the WHO's routine briefing on the new crown epidemic, Director-General Tedros Tedros repeatedly stated that he must be vigilant against "vaccine nationalism."

  Pandemic Prevention Innovation Alliance (CEPI) CEO Richard Hatchett pointed out that the global pandemic of the epidemic transcends national borders. It is impossible for each country to close itself. Only collective cooperation can solve this problem. "We need to establish a fair global distribution system that can operate effectively after vaccine development. This system requires funding, management, and global support and collaboration." He said.

   "The U.S. has the right to the largest number of vaccines"

   Currently, the United States has signed pre-purchase agreements with a number of vaccine companies for more than $6 billion.

   The latest order comes from Moderna. On August 11, the US government purchased 100 million doses of new crown vaccine from Moderna for US$1.5 billion. The agreement also promised that the United States could purchase an additional 400 million doses of vaccine. In just a few weeks, the United States received 100 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, 100 million doses from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, 600 million doses of mRNA vaccine jointly developed by BioNTech/Pfizer, and AstraZeneca (University of Oxford). Adenovirus vaccine authorized its supply) 300 million doses and 100 million doses of the US Novavax company.

  Most agreements are not direct procurement, but provide vaccine companies with large amounts of R&D and production funds in exchange for the priority right to obtain vaccines. For example, the White House granted Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline a total of US$2 billion in development assistance in exchange for 100 million doses of future vaccines. In addition, it also awarded $1.9 billion to Pfizer, $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca, and $1 billion to Johnson & Johnson.

These are all part of the US government’s “quick action”. This plan, called “New Manhattan” by Trump, aims to shorten the vaccine development cycle to 8 months by injecting large amounts of money and ensure that it will be completed in January 2021. At least 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines are available in the United States. The "rapid action" list almost includes most of the world's vaccine giants, such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Moderna. By "spending money" around the world, the United States has now obtained the largest ticket to the vaccine market.

   The UK recently purchased 90 million doses of the new crown vaccine from Novavax and Belgian pharmaceutical company Janssen, and pre-ordered 100 million doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca as early as May this year. Up to now, the UK has ordered six preparatory vaccines, with a potential stock of 340 million doses. On August 14, the EU finally reached its first pre-purchase agreement, purchasing 300 million doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca.

   In the battle for vaccines, the European Union has been following the pace of the United States and trying to compete with the United States, but its strength is insufficient.

As the United States provided a large amount of funds to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi as early as February, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said that “the United States has the right to obtain the largest number of vaccines”, but the EU reacted strongly to this and asked him to immediately Withdraw the remarks. On July 22, shortly after the United States announced the purchase of 600 million doses of vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer, the European Commission suddenly released news that the European Union was negotiating with a number of vaccine companies, including BioNTech/Pfizer, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

   On July 31, the European Union announced that it had completed preliminary discussions with Sanofi. Although the transaction has not yet been completed, it plans to purchase 300 million doses of vaccines from Sanofi and provide them to all EU member states. But just a few hours before the announcement in Europe, Sanofi and GSK announced that they had received US$2.1 billion in research and development funding from the United States, and pledged to provide 100 million doses of vaccine to the United States in the future. In fact, this is the largest sum of money invested in the United States' "Rapid Action", but it is only one of them. The total emergency fund for pre-purchasing vaccines in the EU is only 2.4 billion US dollars. Sanofi had previously complained that the EU’s negotiation efficiency was much lower than that of the United States, and the EU’s negotiations with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson also fell into a deadlock.

   Harvard University School of Public Health Professor of Public Health Policy Barry Bloom pointed out to China News Weekly that the U.S. government should not try to form a monopoly on the new crown vaccine. If it continues to act arbitrarily, the United States will lose the respect of the international community.

He believes that the logic should not be to get as many vaccines as you invest, but to establish an international coordination mechanism, which requires extremely complex negotiations and consultations, not just political competitions between major countries, investors, large vaccine manufacturers and the WHO The shareholders of vaccine manufacturers are also an important part of the negotiations.

   On September 5, at the booth of Kexing Company in the Public Health and Epidemic Prevention Zone of the China International Trade Fair in Services in 2020, staff showed visitors the inactivated vaccine against the new coronavirus. Picture/People's Vision

   "How much is left for developing countries?"

   Bilateral agreements between Europe and the United States and major pharmaceutical companies have almost carved up most of the production capacity of major global vaccine companies. "How much is left for developing countries?" Sangeeta Shashikant asked. She is the coordinator of the international organization Third World Network (TWN) and a British lawyer, mainly responsible for TWN's intellectual property projects. TWN is mainly composed of lawyers from all over the world, committed to promoting fair access to vaccines in third world countries and solving patent issues involving vaccines.

Shashikant pointed out to China News Weekly that the problem is not only because of the wealth of Western developed countries, but also because of the extremely uneven distribution of the vaccine global industry chain. Most of the research and development and production are concentrated in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia including China. A few countries, Latin America, Africa, and most of Asia have almost no R&D and production capacity, and therefore have no right to speak and bargain at all. They can only rely on assistance from developed countries or a few bilateral transactions with small transactions.

  In terms of vaccine research and development, according to WHO statistics, a total of 31 countries around the world participate in research and development, of which 22% of the research and development teams are from the United States, 11% from China, and 8% from Russia. Among a total of 167 candidate new crown vaccines filed by the WHO, 6 have entered phase III clinical trials. There are three vaccines in China, and the other three are from the United States and the United Kingdom.

In terms of vaccine production, according to the global vaccine production capacity distribution map Vaxmap drawn by TWN, preliminary statistics show that there are 44 manufacturers in the United States and 72 manufacturers in Europe. Among them, Germany has the most with 10 manufacturers, followed by 8 in France, Belgium, Switzerland, There are 6 each in the UK and Ireland. In China, according to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China, as of July 27, a total of 13 companies have successively carried out new crown vaccine production capacity construction, of which 9 have been approved to conduct clinical trials, with an estimated annual production capacity of 720 million doses. India also has at least 11 or so vaccine manufacturers, of which the Serum Institute of India (SII) is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer. There are 8 manufacturers in Singapore, 10 in Japan and 7 in South Korea. Only Egypt and South Africa each have 1 vaccine manufacturer in Africa, and there are 10 in Central and South America. These are mostly small and medium-sized production capacity.

It is worth noting that Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and other developing countries with vaccine production capacity have provided multiple vaccine R&D teams with Phase III clinical trial subjects in exchange for technical support and production licenses, enabling vaccines to land in their countries. produce. Taking Brazil as an example, it has signed technology transfer agreements with the adenovirus vaccine R&D team of Oxford University, Sinopharm and China Kexing. Brazil was able to first produce 30 million doses of the Oxford vaccine during the trial period. After the vaccine has passed clinical acceptance, it can continue to produce another 70 million doses.

   Compared with relying solely on aid and donations from developed countries, this model is regarded as one of the ways that developing countries can no longer wait to die. At an African Union meeting held at the end of June, South African President Ramaphosa called on African leaders to make vaccines produced in Africa as much as possible and work hard to expand production capacity. However, due to insufficient funds, they could only try bank financing and loans.

   But this model of "experimental fields" in exchange for technology licenses cannot break the vaccine monopoly of countries such as Europe and the United States, and some of the vaccines it obtains are far from enough to meet its basic needs.

Shashikant repeatedly emphasized to China News Weekly that the global pandemic of the new crown is different from previous pandemics. Due to the strong transmission capacity and high lethality of the new crown virus, experts predict that the new crown will not be like SARS, H1N1 will end soon, and the realization of herd immunity through vaccines as soon as possible is regarded as the only solution to this global pandemic. Therefore, the biggest challenge now is how to produce such a huge amount of vaccine in a short time. "This number is unimaginably huge, whether it is the United States or any major vaccine country, there has never been any similar experience before." She said.

Du Heng, senior program officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote an article that according to experts at Johns Hopkins University, herd immunity requires 70% to 90% of the population to be immune to the virus, according to the global population of 7.5 billion It is calculated that 5.25 billion to 6.75 billion people are required to be immunized. Considering that sometimes two doses of vaccine will be used for immunization, at least 10 billion doses of new crown vaccine are needed globally. Based on the total global vaccine production capacity of 3.5 billion doses in 2018, this number is three times the global annual vaccine production capacity. This means that even if all existing vaccine production lines are used to produce new crown vaccines, it will not be able to meet global demand, not to mention other conventional vaccine production cannot be abandoned.

Seth Berkley, CEO of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), told China News Weekly that under “vaccine nationalism”, this unprecedented vaccine gap will further aggravate the extreme uneven distribution of vaccines around the world. There are only a few countries that supply enough vaccines in their own countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Even within the European Union, many wealthy countries cannot get enough vaccines, which in turn will delay the global escape from the pandemic.

He pointed out that the problems caused by the delay, in addition to the continued deepening of the epidemic in countries with insufficient vaccine access, for those countries that have cleared the epidemic, there are two main risks: 1. No one can predict whether the virus will Mutation, before all countries are protected, the risk of resurrection still exists. 2. Unlike the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, in today's deep globalization, more and more downstream supply chains have shifted to developing countries. The global economic recession brought about by the new crown pandemic has affected the United States the most. , Europe and China. The United States, which pursues "vaccine nationalism", cannot be independent of its own assumptions.

   Economists have reached a consensus that the economic crisis brought about by the new crown is more serious than the world economic depression of the 1930s.

   Shashikant said that this is not only reflected in the huge economic losses that have been formed, but also in that the recovery cycle for the entire world from this huge disaster will be longer than expected. In particular, when the epidemic has not ended in most parts of the world, the rebound of the epidemic and the resumption of work in any one country or region will bring economic shocks to other countries and regions, and no one can recover their own economy alone.

In other words, even if the United States achieves herd immunity through exclusive vaccines in the short term, due to the disruption of the global supply chain, the weakening of capital flows, and the unprecedented collapse of oil demand and the collapse of oil prices caused by the pandemic, aviation, tourism, and manufacturing The industry cannot fully recover before the epidemic, and the overall macroeconomic recovery will be weak. However, no matter how the external macro environment changes, only by doing well can you deal with various changes in reality. This is what SEKO Machinery always believes. Therefore, in order to adapt to market changes, we launched servo motor stainless steel pipe inner weld bead rolling machine leveling equipment in 2019, which defeated competing products of the same type with its superior industrial design and performance, and won market recognition with reliable quality. If you are also troubled by the inner welds of stainless steel pipes, please feel free to contact us.

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Iris Liang
SEKO Machinery & Technology Co., Ltd
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