Published:  02:07 AM, 10 January 2021

COVAX offers Pfizer's vaccine to Bangladesh


The COVAX programme, led by the World Health Organisation and global alliance GAVI, has asked Bangladesh if the country is interested in the coronavirus vaccine developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. Bangladesh has been asked to respond to a COVAX letter by Jan 18 to secure the vaccine, said ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of health services.

After the directorate informed Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Health Secretary Abdul Mannan, and other officials about the letter, it was initially decided that Bangladesh will go for the vaccine, Alam said. It also held a meeting with WHO officials in Bangladesh.

The letter, dated Jan 6, was sent to 192 countries that have joined the COVAX programme. The countries interested in the vaccine will get a limited quantity of the doses by the end of January or February, reports bndew24.com.COVAX will complete reviewing the countries' responses by Jan 28 and inform them about its distribution plans the following day.The countries' regulators must also approve the vaccine in January before rolling out the doses by May.

GUARD AGAINST NEW VARIANTS
The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE appears to protect against highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in Britain and South Africa, a laboratory study suggests.

In blood samples from vaccine recipients, scientists found the vaccine appears effective against the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein on the virus, according to a report posted on Thursday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review. Pfizer scientist Phil Dormitzer said the vaccine has been tested against 16 mutations, and none have really had any significant impact. "That's the good news," he said, before adding a note of caution. "That doesn't mean that the 17th won't."

Ongoing testing will be needed, experts said, to allay concerns about whether the vaccines will be protective as the virus mutates. The vaccine is based on synthetic messenger RNA technology (mRNA), as is the one from Moderna Inc.

"The evidence is not conclusive but there is a lot to indicate that the existing mRNA vaccines do cover the new variants," said Andreas Bergthaler of the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna and CureVac NV are also testing their shots against the fast-spreading coronavirus variants.




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