HIGH TURNOUT FOR VACCINATION … NO SIDE EFFECTS YET
LONDON, Dec 27, (Agencies): The head of drugmaker Astra- Zeneca, which is developing a coronavirus vaccine widely expected to be approved by U.K. authorities this week, said Sunday that researchers believe the shot will be effective against a new variant of the virus driving a rapid surge in infections in Britain. AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot also told the Sunday Times that researchers developing its vaccine have figured out a “winning formula” making the jab as effective as rival candidates. Some have raised concern that the Astra- Zeneca vaccine, which is being developed with Oxford University, may not be as good as the one made by Pfizer already being distributed in the U.K. and other countries.
Partial results suggest that the AstraZeneca shot is about 70% effective for preventing illness from coronavirus infection, compared to the 95% efficacy reported by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” Soriot said. “I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.” Britain’s government says its medicines regulator is reviewing the final data from AstraZeneca’s phase three clinical trials.
The Times and others have reported that the green light could come by Thursday, and the vaccines can start to be rolled out for the U.K. public in the first week of January. Asked about the vaccine’s efficacy against the new variant of coronavirus spreading in the U.K., Soriot said: “So far, we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can’t be sure, so we’re going to test that.” British authorities have blamed the new virus variant for soaring infection rates across the country. They said the variant is much more transmittable, but stress there is no evidence it makes people more ill. Prime Minister Boris Johnson sounded an urgent alarm about the variant days before Christmas, saying the new version of the virus was spreading rapidly and that plans to travel and gather must be canceled for millions. Authorities have since put increasing areas of the country – affecting about 24 million people, or 43% of the population – in the strictest level of restrictions. Many countries swiftly barred travel from the U.K., but cases of the new variant have since also been reported in a dozen locations around the world. Public health officials said on Dec. 24 that more than 600,000 people had received the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Minister of Health Sheikh Dr. Bassel Al-Sabah on Sunday lauded the high turnout of medical personnel and frontline workers at Kuwait Vaccination Center since the campaign kick-off earlier today.
Today began actual inoculation campaign after its inauguration on Thursday, the minister said in a statement to journalists while inspecting the center at the International Fair Grounds in the district of Mishref.
First to take the jab against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the week are the medical personnel, minister Al-Sabah affirmed. A shipment of doses will arrive in Kuwait every month and they will be provided to willing citizens and expatriates throughout 2021, he added. The minister called on everybody to register their names and other required data on the assigned website to get a date for the immunization against COVID-19. He reiterated the appeal to all to continue to abide by precautionary measures against the germ regardless of the assuring dwindling figures of the cases. Sheikh Bassel also revealed that none of the persons who had taken the jab suffered from side-effects. Kuwait listed 204 new coronavirus infections on Sunday to raise the total 149,653 and two virus-related deaths in the past 24 hours as the death toll rose to 931, the health ministry said.
The number of people hospitalized with the virus currently stands at 3,143, with 49 of them in intensive care units, according to ministry spokesman Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanad, who revealed that some 2,158 swab tests were conducted over the last day out of a total of 1,243,422. The ministry had earlier reported that some 199 more people had been cured from the virus over the past day, raising the total of those to have overcome the disease to 145,579.
He went on to urge nationals and expatriates alike that abiding by health precautions, mainly, following social distancing rules, is the only way to halt the spread of the virus. According to senior government sources, the reward for front-line COVID-19 workers is now subject to updating the data of the beneficiaries with the aim of achieving fairness and giving all those covered by the financial compensation their due reward, reports Al-Anba daily.