The vaccine candidates from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna have made the headlines in recent weeks. But the vaccine from the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca could be even more important in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic: Because, unlike the other two vaccines, the doses, which cost between three and nine dollars (approx. 2.50 to 7.50 euros), should also be affordable for poorer countries.
When AstraZeneca reported on its vaccine candidate with an average effectiveness of 70 percent, the drug seemed at first glance to be inferior to the vaccines of the other two companies: Biontech’s vaccine is said to offer a protection of around 95 percent, while Moderna reported a similarly high efficacy.
Industrial countries get high-tech vaccines first
Nevertheless, AstraZeneca’s drug could play an immense role, especially for poorer countries. Moderna wants between 25 and 37 dollars (around 21 to 31 euros) for one dose, Biontech negotiated a price of 33 euros for two doses for the first delivery to the USA. “These prices carry the risk that the vaccines will remain out of reach for a large part of humanity,” fears Margaret Wurth, a health expert from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch, as reported by “Bloomberg”. Moreover, these high-tech vaccines are first and foremost delivered to rich industrialized countries.
Basis for AstraZeneca product is ordinary influenza vaccine
Therefore, AstraZeneca’s vaccine “AZD1222” is likely to play a major role in combating the pandemic in poorer regions. Unlike the other vaccines, the price of a dose of about three to nine dollars is almost a bargain. Because the basis for “AZD1222” is a common influenza vaccine, it can be produced so cheaply. The drug can also be produced in factories around the world. In India, production has even already begun – and it is also to be manufactured in Brazil. AstraZeneca has committed to supplying the doses at cost price.
No extreme cooling required
In addition to the price factor, the drug of the British-Swedish group has another not insignificant advantage. The active ingredient does not have to be stored at an extreme cooling of minus 70 degrees (Biontech) or standard freezing temperatures of minus 20 degrees (Moderna). The necessary infrastructure would present poor countries with a challenge. Refrigerator temperature is perfectly adequate for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- hp, with reports from krone.at. picture: pixabay.com
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