Moderna: UK authorises next-generation bivalent vaccine
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According to the data communicated by the General Directorate of Health to French daily L’Express, the French health authorities would have 1.85 million bottles of Moderna and 1.7 million bottles of Pfizer, that is to say, a little more than 30 million doses of vaccine that could be injected.
But despite the increase in the number of cases across France, injections have been in free fall with less than 20,000 injections per day in recent days.
These figures are largely insufficient to use up the colossal stocks still available. As a new booster vaccination campaign begins in early October, it is not these 30 million doses that will be directly concerned.
According to the recommendations of the French National Authority for Health (HAS), it is vaccines adapted to the new variants that, once delivered to France, will be used in priority for the most vulnerable people, and not the Pfizer and Moderna doses.
“In the short term, the traditional vaccines will remain injected until the new bivalent vaccines arrive. In addition, these bivalent vaccines have only been approved for use in booster shots. The stock of conventional vaccines will therefore allow access to primary vaccination to be maintained,” the Directorate General of Health told L’Express.
Consequently, the 30 million doses concerned should be thrown away in large numbers. To clear the stock, it would be necessary above all for the French to massively want a fourth injection.
For the moment, the Chambre syndicale de la répartition pharmaceutique estimates weekly deliveries to pharmacies at 150,000 doses of first-generation vaccine. Even if this level were to increase, it would not be enough to sell the 30 million pending injections.
To limit waste as much as possible, France could therefore deliver these doses to countries with low vaccination coverage. “It could be interesting, as the government has already done on several occasions, for large volumes, to send donations of vaccines to certain countries,” stresses David Lepoittevin, Pfizer France’s Director of Vaccines. But the clock is ticking and these doses could reach their expiry date.
Reacting to the news, Les Patriotes leader Florian Philippot blasted: “Covid-19: France will surely have to destroy 30 million doses of vaccine! Nobody wants them anymore! 600 million euros (£522M) thrown away! We could have built several hospitals with this!”
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It comes as Switzerland was also forced to destroy 10.3 million doses of Moderna vaccines, which reached their expiration date last week.
The Swiss health ministry said it had no other choice as the doses expired on Wednesday, Swiss news agency Keystone-ATS reported, confirming a report by news website Beobachter that the cost of the doses to be destroyed reached 280 million Swiss francs.
In addition, 2.5 million doses are still stored at an army logistics base and 7.8 million are kept in a depot in Belgium, the ministry said, stressing that its vaccine procurement strategy from the outset had been to order more doses than needed for the 8.7 million inhabitants in Switzerland.
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The country has ordered doses from different laboratories to avoid becoming dependent on vaccines that could prove ineffective, avoid delivery problems or broken contracts. In June, the Swissinfo News website estimated that Switzerland had a surplus of 38 million doses of the various Covid vaccines that would expire by the end of the year.
The ministry said about 3.5 million doses of the new Moderna vaccine would be available when Switzerland launches its vaccination campaign next month. Switzerland, which has suffered 13,556 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, has vaccinated nearly 70 percent of its population.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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