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Weekly Roundups

Vaccine Distribution Challenges Sink Moderna’s Stock

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 14:49

Mexico’s economic reactivation continues as all but three states have entered “green light” in the COVID-19 risk system map, meaning most of the country’s citizens live in areas with relaxed pandemic health regulations. This announcement came after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador celebrated the vaccination of most Mexicans.

Here is the week in health!

A Fully Vaccinated Country?

President López Obrador celebrated that most adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which was part of his promise to immunize the entire population. Mexico City achieved a 95 percent coverage and, along with Quintana Roo and Queretaro, has achieved a vaccination rate of almost 100 percent. Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla have much smaller vaccination rates, with only about 60 percent of their population having received at least one dose of a vaccine.

An Alternative to Treat COVID-19

The UK approved Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral pill Molnupiravir, which halves the chances of dying or being hospitalized for severe COVID-19 illness. Unlike COVID-19 vaccines, which target the spike protein on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, molnupiravir targets an enzyme that the virus uses to copy itself. The pill prevents the virus from multiplying by introducing errors into its RNA. Read more about the future of this development here.

Influenza Vaccination Begins

The national influenza vaccination campaign began this Wednesday throughout the country. The Ministry of Health stated that there is no risk in receiving two different vaccines simultaneously, so those recently vaccinated against COVID-19 can apply the influenza vaccine.

Covaxin Receives WHO’s Approval

WHO approved the emergency use of the Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine, created by Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech. This vaccine is 78 percent effective and recommended for those over 18 years of age. It joins Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm and Sinovac in WHO’s list of approved vaccines against COVID-19.

Booster Shots to be Reserved

Tedros Adhanom, Director General, WHO, called for vaccine makers to prioritize deliveries of the COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX mechanism for poorer countries. He urged these companies to put pause on “shareholder profit” and added that boosters should not be administered except to those who are immunocompromised.

Health Budget Falls Short

To address Mexico’s poor public health spending, PRI’s parliamentary group at the Chamber of Deputies submitted a reform initiative to guarantee an annual expenditure in public health of a minimum of 6 percent of the country’s GDP. Read more in this article.

Moderna’s Shares Drop

Moderna cut its 2021 sales forecast for its COVID-19 vaccine by US$5 billion, struggling with supply and distribution issues to meet the unprecedented global demand. The problems let its  shares to fall by 16 percent. "We really believe we can fix those short-term supply issues; those are what I would qualify as teething problems of scaling up so fast," Moderna’s CEO told Reuters.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst