The European Medicines Agency says Astrazeneca and oxford university have submitted an application for their covid-19 vaccine to be licensed across the 27-nation European Union.
The EU regulator says the request could be approved by the end of the month.
The drugs agency for the 27-nation EU has already approved two other coronavirus vaccines, one made by American Drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, and another made by U.S. Biotechnology company Moderna.
Switzerland approved the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday and plans to immunize about four percent of its population using Moderna and the Pfizer-bioNTech shots.
The EU says it had concluded early talks with French biotech company Valneva to secure up to 60 million vaccine doses.
The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is expected to be key for many countries because of its low cost, availability and ease of use. It can be kept in refrigerators rather than the ultra-cold storage that the Pfizer vaccine requires.
COVID-19 Infection Gives Some Immunity, But Virus Can Still Be Spread, Study Finds
As United Kingdom, struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and amid attempt to accelerate vaccination efforts, a study of healthcare workers in the European country has found people who have had COVID-19 are highly likely to have immunity to it for at least five months but there is evidence that those with antibodies may still be able to carry and spread the virus.
Preliminary findings by scientists at Public Health England (PHE) showed that reinfections in people who have COVID-19 antibodies from a past infection are rare – with only 44 cases found among 6,614 previously infected people in the study.
But experts cautioned that the findings mean people who contracted the disease in the first wave of the pandemic in the early months of 2020 may now be vulnerable to catching it again.
They also warned that people with so-called “natural immunity” – acquired through having had the infection – may still be able to carry the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their nose and throat, and could unwittingly pass it on.
Susan Hopkins, the senior medical adviser at PHE and co-leader of the study, whose findings were published on Thursday said “we now know that most of those who have had the virus, and developed antibodies, are protected from reinfection, but this is not total and we do not yet know how long protection lasts.”
“This means even if you believe you already had the disease and are protected, you can be reassured it is highly unlikely you will develop severe infections. But there is still a risk you could acquire an infection and transmit (it) to others.”
A statement on the study said its findings did not address antibody or other immune responses to vaccines now being rolled out against COVID-19, or on how effective vaccines would be. Vaccine responses will be considered later this year, it said.
According to British government data, a daily record of 1,564 deaths was on Wednesday reported in the country bringing the total death toll to more than 89,000 persons.
The UK with its population of more than 66 million has injected 2.6 million persons with the first dose of a vaccine. Earlier, the British government approved three main COVID-19 vaccines – by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford and Moderna.
‘Unique’ COVID-19 Variant Detected In Kenya
Kenya says it has detected a unique coronavirus variant in the south-east of the country, following a study by state-linked Kenya Medical Research Institute between June and October.
Scientists at the institute say more research needs to be done to assess the impact of the variant.
Kenya has so far confirmed nearly 100,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says the faster-spreading South African variant has been detected in three African states – Botswana, Zambia and the Gambia in west Africa.
WHO says Africa has now surpassed three million COVID-19 cases, and daily case numbers were exceeding the first wave peak.
WHO an average of 25,223 cases were reported each day between 28 December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases.
“Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point,” it added.
WHO Reform Needed In Wake Of Pandemic, Public Health Experts Say
Public health experts have said on Wednesday, the role and remit of the World Health Organization (WHO) should be examined in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reforms will likely be needed to free it from politics and give it more independence.
Speaking at the Reuters next conference, British and Swedish epidemiologists Neil Ferguson and Anders Tegnell, and the head of Nigeria’s Centre for disease control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the united nations health agency-W.H.O. Had faced difficulties in leading a global response to the pandemic.
All three experts say they expect populations in their countries and others to face restrictions designed to slow the spread of the pandemic for at least the first half of 2021, and maybe longer if the rollout of vaccines takes more time.
But they expressed hope that, by the end of the year, life might start to look a little more like a pre-pandemic normal.