Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may pose fewer distribution challenges
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First, it was Pfizer-BioNTech, then Moderna. Now, Monday morning, British drugmaker AstraZeneca and its partner Oxford University are the latest vaccine makers to say large-scale clinical trials showed this third vaccine seems to work well in humans. It’s up to 90% effective if less is given, 62% effective if more vaccine is given — researchers are trying to figure out why.
The BBC’s Victoria Craig has the latest on this. She spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
David Brancaccio: AstraZeneca’s candidate is cheaper and easier to store and transport. Victoria, this is an advantage when it comes to getting a vaccine to developing countries, particularly?
Victoria Craig: Yes, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can be stored at regular refrigerator temperature. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines need to be stored at much colder temperatures, which has posed a challenge particularly in developing countries that don’t have the infrastructure — or the funds — necessary to keep the doses ultra cold.
And price is also a plus for getting widespread distribution: The Oxford vaccine will cost about $4. Pfizer’s is around $20 and Moderna’s is $34.
Brancaccio: So, we have results of several clinical trials. What happens now?
Craig: The vaccines will need to get their regulatory stamps of approval before they can be distributed. Then, each country’s health departments will need to decide distribution priority. Front-line workers and vulnerable populations are, in many cases, will be first.
AstraZeneca’s biopharma chief, Sir Mene Pangalos, explained the company is working with manufacturing partners all over the world, including India’s Serum Institute.
Mene Pangalos: It’s a relatively easy vaccine to distribute around the world. Manufacturing has already begun. We have the capacity to distribute up to 3 billion doses next year.
Brancaccio: How soon could the rollout happen?
Craig: For this AstraZeneca vaccine, Britain’s health secretary says as soon as next month, with a big U.K. push in January.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?
The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.
What kind of help can small businesses get right now?
A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.
What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?
New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.
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