International 28/04/2021

Who wants AstraZeneca vaccines?

The United States, Denmark and Norway deliver their doses of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine to other countries

3 min
Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine

BarcelonaThe controversy surrounding AstraZeneca vaccines, linked to some cases of thrombosis, along with the state of the vaccination process itself and the current incidence of covid-19 in several countries, has prompted their governments to make millions of doses of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine available to anyone who needs it. Some countries have even offered to buy these leftovers, a fact that led the World Health Organization (WHO) to ask for them to be delivered free of charge.

Denmark, which on April 14 was the first country to announce that it would stop using AstraZeneca completely because of the link with thrombi, has already reached an agreement with the German state of Schleswig-Holstein to supply it with 55,000 doses of the 200,000 it has in stock in the country. From the outset, other countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and the Czech Republic have already expressed interest in acquiring the doses that Denmark did not have to use.

The Danish government has also justified its move by the current low incidence of the virus in the country, which does not place it in a scenario of such an urgent need for vaccines. The Danish regulatory agency has also not yet given the green light for the American vaccine Janssen, which the United States also temporarily withheld because of possible cases of thrombosis similar to AstraZeneca's. This could put a strain on the vaccination campaign in Denmark, where just over 20% of citizens have already received at least a first dose. That is why the Danish opposition is pressuring the government to keep some of these AstraZeneca doses in the country and offer them to whoever wants them to be administered.

At the same time, Norway has delivered 200,000 doses of AstraZeneca to Sweden and about 16,000 more to Iceland. The country has also temporarily suspended administration of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine as a preventive measure, but has yet to decide whether to do so permanently, like Denmark. In fact, the doses it has given to Stockholm are a loan to address the problematic situation in the neighbouring country, but would be returned in equal amounts if the expert committee that has to define the position of Norway finally reauthorises its use.

Reciprocity with India

In any case, who has put more doses on the table are the United States. The White House announced on Monday that it would make available to other countries the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that it has stored in the country. Most of them will go to India, which is experiencing an accelerated wave of infections that has put the country's hospitals, especially in the big cities, under a lot of stress. The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company's vaccine has not yet been officially approved by the US regulatory body for use in the United States.

Yesterday, at a press conference on the White House lawn, Biden confirmed the shipment of the vaccine to India, although he admitted that how it will be delivered has yet to be decided. More urgently, however, Washington will send India better medical supplies, medicines such as remdesivir, and even "the mechanical parts that are needed to build the vaccines" as soon as possible, Biden said. "When we had problems, India helped us", he recalled.

No masks in parks in the U.S.

In fact, Biden had come out to the press to announce the new CDC guideline, which will allow those who are already vaccinated to do without a facemask when meeting outdoors with other vaccinated people, except for large crowds such as concerts or sports stadiums, where they will still be required to wear them.

According to the data given by Biden, the rate of vaccinations in the United States has already reached 250 million doses administered and has achieved that two thirds of older people, 67%, are fully vaccinated and that up to 80% have received at least one dose. This has led to an 80% reduction in mortality in this age group, which until now was where covid-19 had caused the most deaths, and a 70% reduction in hospitalisations. Biden said he was confident that, with this pace, on July 4, Independence Day of the United States, Americans will also be able to "become independent of the virus".