India will manufacture at least one billion more Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of next year in a joint initiative announced Friday with the United States, Japan and Australia. Following the nations’ first four-way summit, President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said the so-called Quad had made a “massive joint commitment” to vaccines.
The White House in a statement said that India’s Biological E Ltd would produce “at least” one billion doses by the end of next year, focusing on the one-dose, US-developed Johnson & Johnson jab.
PM Modi said the four countries were united by their democratic values and that the Quad would remain an important pillar of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Meanwhile, according to members of a World Health Organization (WHO) delegation to China, the Wuhan wet market is still the most likely hypothesis for the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoologist Dr Peter Daszak, president of NGO EcoHealth Alliance which works in the field of zoonotic disease, said the team had identified a viable conduit between the wet market in Wuhan and to regions where the closest relatives of COVID-19 are found in bats.
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The World Health Organization on Friday approved the emergency listing of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, giving its seal of approval to expedite use especially in countries with weaker regulatory agencies. It is the third COVID-19 vaccine after the two-shot regimens of Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca to receive backing from the WHO, and the first requiring just a single injection.
The listing covers use in all countries, for roll-out of the vaccine facility COVAX and follows the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorisation announcement on Thursday. “Every new, safe and effective tool against COVID-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
Health workers in the United States have administered more than 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, an official tracker showed Friday, around 30 percent of the world’s total of shots in arms so far. A total of 101,128,005 shots have been administered, according to the latest tally posted Friday afternoon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
US President Joe Biden’s administration had initially targeted achieving this milestone by his hundredth day in office, that is, April 30. But the goal was quickly revised up to 150 million shots in the first 100 days, and this week Biden said there will be enough vaccine to cover the whole adult population of 258 million by the end of May.
In terms of the breakdown, 65.9 million people have received at least one dose while 35 million are now fully vaccinated, or 10.5 percent of the total population of 331 million.