Covid vaccines, what are they and how many doses will the EU buy?

Recent announcements of a good response to SARS-Cov 2 vaccine candidates and the marketing authorizations of some of them even before the end of the year have provided a dose of hope in an uncertain scenario where a third wave is already in sight.

While there are still many unknowns about each of the vaccines (how manufacturing and logistics will be organized, how long the immunity of each vaccine will last, what the response will be for each group of people, and so on), these announcements have injected the optimism needed to move forward in the fight against the pandemic.

There are currently 249 Covid-19 immunization projects, 20 clinical trials are in phase III, and several laboratories have already reported high efficacy of their vaccines, although all are still subject to marketing approval.

Which vaccines are on top of the list

The most advanced is that of the Pfizer-BioNtech laboratories which has reported that its candidate has an efficacy of 95%. As announced by the company, to date it has not shown any serious adverse effects, although it has shown minor side effects. The main drawback is that it is necessary to keep it at a temperature below 70º below zero to avoid losing its effect, which requires special coolers for transport and storage.

The United Kingdom has already authorized the emergency use of this vaccine, while in the European Union the date of December 29th is being considered.

The vaccine of the Modern American has demonstrated an efficacy of 94.5%, being most of the reported adverse effects of "mild or moderate severity", as announced by the pharmacist. This vaccine presents an advantage in front of its competitor Pfizer, since it can be conserved at 20º below zero. Like Pfizer, this laboratory has also requested to the European Agency of the Medicine the approval of the vaccine and the date that is shuffled for its approval is January 12, 2021.  Once the permits have been obtained, the European Commission will be in charge of issuing a marketing authorization valid for all the countries of the European Union.

On the other hand, the candidate of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has reported an effectiveness of 70% in an intermediate trial, although it can reach a protection of up to 90%. Nevertheless, the company has announced that it is going to carry out another clinical trial. In the month of September the laboratory had to interrupt the trials, since its vaccine caused a serious adverse reaction in a patient, although it resumed it after a few days. This vaccine has an advantage in its distribution, since it is kept at a temperature between 2º and 8º.

Aunque no goza con el mismo respaldo de la comunidad científica que las anteriores, la vacuna rusa Sputnik V es la primera vacuna del mundo en ser registrada y tiene una eficacia del 95%, de acuerdo con los segundos resultados preliminares de los ensayos clínicos, tal y como ha comunicado el Fondo Rusia de Inversiones Directas (FIDR).

Other vaccines exist that are in a very advanced phase, although they have not yet made known their preliminary results. This is the case of the Chinese Sinovac, Sinopharm with the Wuhan Institute and Sinopharm with the Wuhan Institute and the Beijing Institute and CanSino Biologics, as well as the American Novavax and Janssen Pharma and Johnson&Johnson, which will carry out the last phase of its clinical trials in Spain.

How many vaccines and from which laboratories has the EU purchased

In this vaccine race, the European Commission has decided to maintain a diversified vaccine portfolio and has signed several agreements with up to six pharmaceutical laboratories that will serve to vaccinate a population of 900 million people, more than twice the population of the whole EU, which amounts to 446 million people. Those known, for the moment, are Pfizer-BioNTech (to acquire 300 million doses), with Moderna (160 million), with AstraZeneca-A Oxford University (400), with Janssen Pharma-Johnson&Johnson (another 400), as well as with the French-British alliance Sanofi-GSK (300 million doses) and with the German Curevac (405 million).

In Spain, the Government has announced that it expects to have up to 140 million doses of different vaccines to tackle the coronavirus, which would correspond to the European Union's advance purchase agreement, allowing some 80 million immunizations and guaranteeing national coverage.

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