Yesterday, AstraZeneca announced that they expect to have a new version of their COVID-19 vaccine ready by autumn. The adaptation will help to combat the current and emerging variants. The head of biopharmaceuticals research, Mene Pangalos, stated that the company started working on the development of a modified vaccine when the variants were first detected this past fall.
The company’s announcement comes as some researchers just released preliminary results of a small study from South Africa that found the AstraZeneca vaccine didn’t prevent mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. The corporation’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, pointed out that the vaccine is able to prevent severe disease and death, which is the most imperative element.
Also, on Thursday, President Biden revealed that his administration had purchased 100 million more doses each from Pfizer and Moderna, which will increase the supply by 50%, bringing the total number of shots to 600 million. The expansion will provide enough vaccines so every American adult will be able to receive an injection by the end of July. The companies point out that the access to the increased supply won’t be immediate. Instead, it’ll assist in preventing a shortage later this year. According to the president, the delivery of added injections is “faster than we expected.”
While the United States is focused on escalating vaccine production, for the past month, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been looking into the origins of the pandemic in China. Per the investigators, roughly 90 people were hospitalized with Covid-19-like symptoms in central China in the two months before the disease was first identified in Wuhan. If these cases were Covid-19 infections, it could account for suspected coronavirus cases believed to have occurred in Europe and the U.S. in the last few months of 2019. Officials in Beijing maintain that the first patient identified in China developed symptoms on December 8, 2019.
Part of the WHO’s inquiry also looked at the possibility of the virus escaping from a lab accident. The evidence indicates that is unlikely. The team said the virus most likely spread from a bat to another animal and then to humans. Now, the agency is turning its attention to Southeast Asia so that they can analyze wildlife and animal-product supply chains. The group thinks that the virus could have entered China from another country, possibly via frozen products imported from other regions.