Lebanon's Arwan Pharmaceutical Industries is planning to manufacture approximately 25 million doses of Russia's coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V by the end of the year and launch production of the single-dose Sputnik Light shot starting next month, the company's president Abdul Razzaq Yousef, told Sputnik.
Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hasan, who arrived in Moscow for a visit this Tuesday, earlier told Sputnik that he was planning to discuss the final details of the agreement between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Arwan on production of both Sputnik vaccines.
The Lebanese pharma giant intends to produce some 25 million doses by the end of 2021. In the future, the company's annual vaccine output is going to be about 60 million doses.
"Starting next month, we will begin producing one million Sputnik Light doses monthly," Yousef added, noting that Arwan had reached an understanding with the Russian side on all technical and commercial matters.
Lebanon started its vaccination drive in mid-February, using Sputnik V as well as the vaccines by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm. The country has vaccinated over one million people so far. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has confirmed more than 563,000 COVID-19 cases, including 7,912 deaths.
The Middle Eastern nation is also facing an exodus of doctors and medical workers due to the ongoing economic crisis, along with a deficit of even basic medicines as the paralyzed banking system prevents private companies from importing drugs from abroad.
The UK is set to start offering COVID-19 vaccines to healthy teenagers aged 16 and 17 as soon as possible after national vaccine experts issued a relevant recommendation, Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued a recommendation that healthy teenagers aged 16 and 17 should be offered a first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
"Today’s advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) means more young people aged 16 and over can benefit from COVID-19 vaccines. I have accepted their expert recommendations and I have asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate those eligible as soon as possible," Javid said in a statement.
The JCVI does not recommend inoculating children under 16 without underlying health conditions but will continue to monitor the situation, the minister added.
Health experts in the UK conducted detailed analysis of the risks posed by vaccination, concluding that the benefits of vaccinating adolescents outweighed the potential harms, Wei Shen Lim, the chair of the JCVI, told a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
In July, the country approved the vaccination of children aged 12 and over but only if there is a high risk to their health or they live with an immunosuppressed person.
Company-mandated coronavirus vaccine requirements for employees have become a popular option for US small businesses, half of which plan to require jabs for workers and a third plan to require customers without face masks to prove they have been inoculated, a new American Express poll revealed on Wednesday.
“Nearly one in five of all small businesses (19 percent) said they were ‘100 percent certain’ they would require non-remote employees to be vaccinated, while 31 percent said they would ‘likely’ require it,” a press release explaining the poll said.
When asked if they would require customers to show proof of vaccination to shop in their store without wearing a mask, 34 percent said yes, the release added.
The survey of 550 small business leaders was commissioned by Kabbage, an American Express company, and conducted between May 27 and June 24.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Wednesday issued a joint update on COVID-19, recommending that EU countries consider reducing the interval between the first and second vaccine shots.
"As vaccination campaigns gather pace across the EU/EEA [European Economic Area], it may be advisable in some cases to consider reducing the interval between first and second doses, within the authorised limits, particularly for people at risk of severe COVID-19 who have not completed the recommended vaccine schedule," the statement read.
The regulators also strongly recommended that Europeans get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"These COVID-19 vaccines are very effective. However, as long as the virus continues to circulate, we will continue to see breakthrough infections in vaccinated people. This does not mean that the vaccines are not working. Vaccinated people are far better protected against severe COVID-19 than unvaccinated people, and we should all endeavour to be fully vaccinated at the earliest opportunity," Fergus Sweeney, the EMA head of Clinical Studies and Manufacturing, said.
The EMA has so far approved four COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
The novel coronavirus Delta variant accounts for more than 93 percent of all new cases in the United States marking, according to the new data published by the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.
The new data shows over the second half of July, the prevalence of the Delta variant along with its sub-lineages reached 93.4 percent, while in the region of the United States encompassing Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, it reached 98.4 percent.
The Delta variant replaced the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) as the most dominant coronavirus strain in the United States within two months, the CDC data revealed.
The Delta variant of the novel coronavirus is believed to be the most prevalent and fastest-spreading mutation in the world albeit not as deadly. The variant was first reported in India in October 2020 and has already become the predominant strain in a number of countries, including the United States.
The world is not on track to meet the goal set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for every country to vaccinate at least 10% of the population against COVID-19 by September, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
"In late May, I called for global support for a sprint to September to enable countries to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations by the end of September. We are now more than halfway to that target date but we're not on track," Tedros told a press briefing.
The goals set by WHO along with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, also include the vaccination of at least 40% by late 2021, and 70% by mid-2022.
To date, 4 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, according to US-based Johns Hopkins University. Over 199 million people have been infected with the coronavirus globally, and more than 4 million have died.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a moratorium on booster COVID-19 vaccine shots until the end of September to ensure equitable access to vaccines around the globe, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
"WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated. To make that happen, we need everyone's cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines," Tedros told a press briefing.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval process for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 is proceeding in a positive and professional manner, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Wednesday.
"The approval process for the Sputnik V vaccine at the EMA is proceeding in a positive and professional manner. All data on the Sputnik V clinical trials were provided as part of the good clinical practice inspection. Based on the results of this inspection, a positive response was received from the EMA," RDIF said in a statement released in the official Telegram channel of the Sputnik V vaccine.
The RDIF expressed regret over "politicized" claims by the European Commission representatives about a lack of information on the vaccine.
Russia registered 22,589 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 22,010 the day before, taking the overall tally to 6,356,784, the federal response centre said on Wednesday.
"Over the past day, 22,589 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 2,048 cases (9.1%) without clinical symptoms," the centre said, adding that the rate of increase grew to 0.36%.
Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 2,502 daily infections, up from 1,952 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 1,906 cases, down from 1,910, and the Moscow region with 1,517 cases, down from 1,540.
The response centre reported 790 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 788 the day before, raising the country's total death toll to 161,715.
In the same 24 hours, 20,096 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, up from 18,963 the day before, bringing the total to 5,679,842.
More than 500,000 Uruguayans have registered to receive a Pfizer booster dose after they were administered two doses of the Coronovac vaccine developed by the Chinese laboratory, in a rush to head off more contagious variants of the virus, Deputy Head of the Health Ministry Jose Luis Satdjian said on Twitter.
"In less than 10 hours, over 562,000 people signed up for receiving the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The necessary quotas will be determined in the coming days," Satdjian said.
Since Tuesday, residents of the country who have already received two doses of the Coronavac vaccine can sign up for the third dose of the vaccine developed by the American company Pfizer. This procedure is voluntary. It is required that the second dose of Coronavac was administered at least three months earlier.
During the national vaccination program, 1,6 million people were immunized with the Chinese vaccine, most of them with two shots. Over half a million people received the second injection at least three months ago. Another 870,000 residents are vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.