Several days ago, Minister of Health of Ukraine Maksym Stepanov flew to India. There he was going to negotiate the supply of a vaccine against Covid-19.
"Flight Kyiv - Dubai - Delhi - Pune. In 17 hours I will be at my destination - Pune. We are preparing for negotiations with the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world - Serum Institute of India. Unfortunately, the pandemic will be a global problem for several years to come. We understand that we need to contract additional volumes now," the minister wrote on his Facebook page.
That is, according to him, it was about direct agreements with the manufacturer on the supply of ADDITIONAL volumes of Oxford / AstraZeneca and NovaVax vaccines in 2021-2022. Remember these names, this is important...
... because in the end Stepanov did not agree on NovaVax and not on AstraZeneca.
Outcome of negotiations
At the moment we know the following:
"In the near future, the first tranche of 500 thousand doses of the CoviShield vaccine produced in India and manufactured by Serum Institute India will be delivered from India to Ukraine. These vaccines will allow Ukraine to start a campaign of public vaccination throughout the country," the Indian Embassy in Ukraine said.
At the same time, the embassy noted one curious detail. Ukraine will become one of the first countries to receive the Indian vaccine in February.
Now let's talk, in fact, about the vaccine itself.
CoviShield vaccine. What is known about it?
This is the AstraZeneca vaccine, but not really. Let's just say it's AstraZeneca, but its Indian version. That is, in India, the local Serum Institute produces it for the local level.
The BBC writes that this vaccine is made from a weakened version of the common virus (known as adenovirus) from chimpanzees. The virus itself has been modified to look more like the coronavirus, although it cannot cause illness.
The drug is administered in two doses, 4 to 12 weeks apart.
There are nuances. In India, CoviShield is said to be "very effective", nodding to the results of the third phase of studies in the UK and Brazil, but already there are skeptical and negative reviews.
For example, the All India Drug Action Network, a patient advocacy group, says its approval was hasty because the manufacturer had not completed an "interim study" of the vaccine in Indians.
The manufacturing company said it will try to conduct interim vaccine trials in India in February.
The Hindu wrote the following in early February:
"According to a recent study, a longer interval between the first and second dose provides better protection without any compromise for the three months before the second dose."
The vaccine efficacy against symptomatic Covid-19 after a single standard dose of vaccine was 76% from day 22 to day 90.
However, as specified in the media, the first dose did not provide protection against asymptomatic infection during the same period. But the overall number of PCR positives dropped 67% after the first dose, suggesting the possibility of a significant reduction in transmission.
How much will it cost?
The price for Ukrainians is still unknown, but one can assess the situation in terms of prices in India itself. There, one dose of the vaccine will cost an Indian about $ 6 (440 rupees) (in terms of state stores).
According to Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of the Serum Institute, the vaccine will be sold on a private market in India for almost $ 14 per dose.
Side effects include, very common (may affect more than 1 in 10 people); pain, redness, itching, swelling, or bruising at the injection site; general malaise; feeling tired; chills or feeling of fever; headache; feeling unwell (nausea); joint or muscle pain;
General (may affect up to 1 in 10 people) a bump at the injection site; heat; nausea, vomiting; flu symptoms such as high fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, and chills;
Infrequent (may affect up to 1 in 100 people) feeling dizzy; decreased appetite, abdominal pain; enlarged lymph nodes; increased sweating; itchy skin or rash.
Where is CoviShield vaccine supplied?
In the summer of 2020, AstraZeneca and the Indian Vaccine Institute signed a vaccine manufacturing agreement to "help low- and middle-income countries."
Vaccine shipments have already been shipped to Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles. Also, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius may soon receive the vaccine.
Vaccines are exported in two "ways" - either as a gift or under commercial contracts.
The vaccine has been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization. AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India will now partner with the COVAX Center to begin shipping the Covid-19 vaccine worldwide.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India:
“We have been waiting for this final milestone. I am glad that with the WHO EUL we can immediately begin shipping to African and other low and middle income countries.”