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April 23, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – SAGE updates guidance on AZ vaccine – EU seeks expanded contract for 1.8bn doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

By Chris Lo

On the basis of additional evidence, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has updated its interim guidance on the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus. WHO, on the advice of SAGE, maintains that the known and potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks. SAGE also outlined the intended use, administration, the need for booster doses, interchangeability with AstraZeneca vaccines produced by other manufacturers, and other specifics.

According to a European Union (EU) official, the European Commission is seeking EU member states’ approval to initiate talks with Pfizer and BioNTech to purchase up to 1.8 billion doses of their Covid-19 vaccine, to be supplied in 2022 and 2023. Although there is no definite approval as yet, sources have stated that the EU has already decided to approach the companies. It is also being presumed that half of the purchase order will be optional.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Egyptian pharmaceutical company Minapharm have signed an agreement to produce more than 40 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine per year at Minapharm’s biotech facility in Cairo. Minapharm’s Berlin-based subsidiary ProBioGen will provide process optimisation to scale up production of the vaccine at the plant. Vaccine rollout is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2021.

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