Author: Jean-Claude Muller, 穆卓Executive Editor at BtoBioInnovation email@example.com
SPECIAL REPORT #21.8
COVID 19 Update #6
Wherever we live, we like to complain and show frustration on how slow and cumbersome our health authorities and governments are in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, the cause of 2.754 million deaths worldwide. But with a grain of hindsight lets have an objective look at the real situation as of March 26th 2021.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. At more or less the same time, large worldwide concerted R&D efforts were launched to find new ways to treat the SARS-CoV-2 virus disease. Nine month later the first COVID-19 vaccines had proven their efficacy in human clinical trials and were approved by health agencies at an unprecedented speed around the globe. We, like others, were sceptical how new players in the biopharmaceutical industry would be able to deliver and supply sufficient doses to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control.
According to data collected by the business news agency Bloomberg, less than four months after the very first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, the milestones of 500 million (half a billion) doses, injected into humans, has been passed at midnight of March 25th 2021. The figure by itself is most impressive, when compared with what the vaccine industry is able to supply in a “normal” year: around 1.2 billion doses of flu and paediatric vaccines, but even more so when projections are taken into perspective. The 100 million threshold dates back to the beginning of February. Since March 22, 12 million subjects are vaccinated every day. If this rate continues, the billion mark will be reached before the end of April. At his first formal press conference, since taking office at the White House in January, President Joe Biden pledged to have 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered to Americans by the end of his first 100 days in office. That is double the goal he set in December and reached earlier this month.
With production capacities in full swing, except for AstraZeneca, there is no reason for the pace to slow down. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are now counting to deliver 2.3 billion doses of vaccines in 2021 and other manufacturers around the world are following the pace including the ones in China and Russia.
Looking at the overall vaccination effort by country has also its interest. Numerically with more than 130 million doses injected, the United States dominate, followed by China, the European Union, India and the United Kingdom. In relation with its population Israel leads in front of Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates. Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise to see that the poorest countries have the lowest access to vaccination. Bloomberg notes 17 people vaccinated in Gabon and 600 in Iraq. Fortunately, two large countries: Brazil and Mexico are making fast and impressive progress.
As a whole, the 27-nation large European Union is seriously lagging behind with less than 60 million doses injected, although it is on its soil that most vaccines are produced (53 facilities according to the European Commission).
SARS-CoV-2 virus variants have rapidly appeared and many countries are now facing a deadly third wave of COVID-19 pandemic triggering a partial and sometimes a total lockdown of their most contaminated regions.
Strangely, except for Remdesivir, no newly discovered antiviral agent has shown a clear clinical benefit.
The coming month will be the first pivotal month where epidemiologists will be able to assess if the number of new cases of COVID-19 infection is decreasing in countries with a high vaccination rate (at least 25% of their population being fully vaccinated.)
Most experts agree that herd immunity will not be reached before the end of the summer in many countries of the Northern Hemisphere.
Paris, March 26, 2021
This document has been prepared by btobioinnovation and is provided to you for information purposes only. The information contained in this document has been obtained from sources that btobioinnovation believes are reliable but btobioinnovation does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. The views presented in this document are those of btobioinnovation’s editor at the time of writing and are subject to change. btobioinnovation has no obligation to update its opinions or the information in this document.