Expatica news

More Covid vaccines available: Alternatives to AstraZeneca

MORE COVID VACCINES AVAILABLE: ALTERNATIVES TO ASTRAZENECADoubts remain about the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19, but far more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are currently available in Portugal.

So far, Portugal has received 42,300 AstraZeneca doses compared to almost 390,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, but only 19,200 doses of Moderna. More batches of all three of these vaccines are expected this month. Coronavirus vaccinations are free for everyone in this country.

Doubts about AstraZeneca began recently when South Africa halted using it because of a study suggesting it may have only limited use against new variants of coronavirus. Portugal’s national health authority has advised that it is preferable to use a vaccine other than AstraZeneca for those aged 65 and over.

Germany, France, Austria and Norway are now only administering AstraZeneca to those aged under 65. Poland is restricting its use to those under 60 and Italy and Spain to the under-55s.

World Health Organisation officials have offered reassurance that AstraZeneca jabs will prevent serious illness and death, even from the new South African strain of the virus.

Meanwhile, it is argued that all vaccines seem to be less effective against mutant strains of coronavirus. There is confidence in the UK, however, that AstraZeneca is highly effective against the dominant type of virus and it continues to be widely used in Britain.

Some 340 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are to be shipped from the WHO-supported Covax global procurement facility to poor countries, including several in southern Africa.

A spokesman for the WHO team who recently returned from an investigative visit to Wuhan in China said they had not yet determined the precise origins of the Covid virus in December 2019, but thought it most likely to have had an animal source. They dismissed as very unlikely that it originated as a leak from a laboratory.

Article by Len Port