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African Union drops plans to buy additional AstraZeneca vaccine from India's Serum Institute

April 8, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.3%. 2 min read.

Vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at a filling lab at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, India, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Experts say there is a pressing need for India to bolster vaccination, which started sluggishly in January. The country is expanding its drive to include everyone over 45 from Thursday, April 1. Spotlight on Serum Institute of India - the world’s largest maker of vaccines and key global supplier - to cater to cases at home has resulted in delays of global shipments of up to 90 million doses under the U.N.-backed COVAX program, an initiative devised to give countries access to vaccines regardless of their wealth. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

The African Union has announced it is dropping plans to buy additional doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine directly from the Serum Institute of India and will instead focus on securing further vaccines from Johnson & Johnson.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC), said the decision was not related to recent safety concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine but “because we work very closely with COVAX,” the vaccine-sharing facility for the world’s poorest countries.

Nkengasong said he hoped the vaccines would “begin to be available at the beginning of the third quarter. ”

The AU's decision comes a day after EU regulator European Medicines Agency (EMA) found that there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots. ”

However Nkengasong said, “this (AstraZeneca) vaccine continues to be safe.

He welcomed the news that “Seychelles and Mauritius have received enough COVID vaccine doses to reach 20% target vaccination benchmark, which was what the COVAX facility promised. ”

As coronavirus cases in Brazil continue to surge at alarming rates and vaccine rollout has been slow at best, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the adoption of restrictive measures against the virus could help curb its spread.

A man is being held in custody in the Netherlands after plotting to blow up a vaccine center, a spokesperson for the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) told CNN on Thursday.

Speaking to CNN on Thursday, OM said the suspect tried to sabotage a crucial government process, namely the nationally coordinated vaccination program, in an "extremely violent way. " 

Once the doses are produced, it is up to each member state to administer the vaccines, Breton said, adding that he was in contact with all EU countries who are “doing the right things” to make sure people will get vaccinated.

Breton said he had confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it is a “good vaccine,” adding, it’s “extremely important that all of our fellow citizens understand that we are extremely cautious…and when we give it (a vaccine) the green light, we can go. ”

According to the Health Ministry, 3,362,472 people have been fully vaccinated in France and 9,797,957 have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Following the advice of Belgium’s Superior Health Council, Vandenbroucke said the country would now, “use AstraZeneca for the somewhat older people and use the other vaccines earlier for the younger people. ”

Last month Belgium had decided to continue its vaccination campaign for all people aged over 18 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while other European countries suspended using the vaccine over blood-clotting concerns pending an investigation by the EMA.

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