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Kuwait allows emergency use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

This illustration photo shows COVID-19 vaccine vials and syringes with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. – AFP

KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti health ministry has authorized the emergency use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to protect people from the novel coronavirus. The authorization was issued after a detailed review of all relevant scientific data and reports and after conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the vaccine’s safety, efficacy and quality, assistant undersecretary for drug and food control Dr Abdullah Al-Bader said in a press statement on Friday.

He added that a ministry technical committee also reviewed the results of the vaccine’s clinical trials, particularly those related to the effectiveness and safety aspects of the vaccine. Bader emphasized that the ministry will closely monitor the vaccine’s safety after using it and will take all necessary measures to ensure safety of people. The official also revealed that Kuwait will receive the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine within days to help accelerate its vaccination campaign.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India under a license from AstraZeneca, was approved for emergency use by the European Medicines Agency and Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Bader noted. He added the Serum Institute of India is a vaccine manufacturer accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced Friday that the AstraZeneca-Oxford University coronavirus vaccine has been authorized for the EU market, hours after the bloc’s drug regulator recommended its approval. It is the third vaccine approved for use in the 27-nation EU, after rival shots produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

“I expect the company to deliver the 400 million doses as agreed,” von der Leyen tweeted, as a row intensified between Brussels and AstraZeneca. “We will keep on doing all we can to secure vaccines for Europeans, our neighbors & partners worldwide.” The British-Swedish company has admitted it will only be able to deliver a fraction of the doses promised to the EU in the short-term due to production problems.

That has come as a huge blow to Europe’s already struggling rollout effort, while setting the EU on a collision course with former member Britain as they jostle for AstraZeneca’s limited supplies. The approval of AstraZeneca’s vaccine also comes in the middle of a controversy over the jab within the EU itself.

Germany’s vaccine commission said Thursday that the vaccine should not be used on over-65s due to insufficient evidence that it works. Even after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the AstraZeneca’s shot be approved for all ages on Friday, the German panel maintained its stance. – Agencies

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