Astrazeneca. PAHO will only support safe vaccines.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic–President Luis Abinader told media directors during a lunch at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday, 26 August 2020 that the government has signed an agreement with the Clinton Foundation and the Carlos Slim Foundation to cover the cost of Covid-19 vaccinations.

Once the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Oxford University is on the market, the Dominican Republic will be one of the first five countries to purchase it.

Abinader shared the information during the media directors’ lunch, as reported in N Digital.

10 million vaccines would be enough to inoculate five million Dominicans. Two doses need to be given per person.

A June, 2020 trial of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in pigs has found that two doses of the Oxford University-developed shot produced a greater antibody response than a single dose. Pigs are often used as proxies for humans in trials of this kind, as their anatomy is somewhat similar.

He said the price of the dose would be around US$4, far below the US$15  per vaccine that the US government is paying for the Moderna virus in addition to the $955 million in financial support from the U.S. government for the development of mRNA-1273.

AstraZeneca says it will sell the vaccine at cost during the life of the pandemic, but there are several questions about the much more expensive Moderna vaccine that make governments want to hedge their bets.

Firstly, nobody has made this type of vaccine before.

Moderna’s candidate is an mRNA vaccine, meaning it aims to deliver pre-programmed genetic information to a patient’s cells so that they will subsequently produce antibodies against the coronavirus.

This methodology has worked well enough to bring the candidate through the first two phases of clinical trials so far. But there are no other therapies or prophylactics on the market that use the same approach, despite a handful of efforts, which is a red flag.

Furthermore, the company’s preliminary safety data suggested that patients in the mRNA-1273 trial were more likely to experience systemic adverse events — clinical-trial lingo for “difficult side effects” — after a second dose of the vaccine.

If subsequent data show that these side effects are especially burdensome for certain patient populations, like immunocompromised people or older adults, it would make Moderna’s candidate much less appealing.

On the other hand, as long as the majority of patients experience only mild side effects, Moderna’s vaccine could still be a success.

But a further issue is the storage temperatures necessary for vaccines to remain viable.

Executives from Moderna and Pfizer on Wednesday separately told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice on Wednesday that mRNA-1273, which is Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, requires a storage temperature of minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit, but BioNTech and Pfizer’s candidates, BN1162b2 and BNT162b2, need to be stored in negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

Minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit,  or 36 degrees below zero–which is 32 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale–is equivalent to thirty six degrees below zero, and could not be maintained in your average doctor’s office or clinic fridge, but negative 94 degrees is a whole different matter, which would make it necessary to pack these vaccines in dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide gas) and use special low temperature refrigerators only found in specialist facilities.

Also efforts to produce several millions of doses by contract manufacturers could be hampered by shortages of raw materials and basic supplies like glass vials, stoppers and needles. Demand for the specialized borosilicate glass used for the vials has outpaced supply for several years, and the rubber stoppers are made by just a handful of companies.

President Donald Trump is impatient for a vaccine, as any near-term progress in the war against Covid-19 would probably improve his prospects for re-election in November. On August 22nd, he tweeted thus about an alleged conspiracy to slow down vaccine production.

However it seems very unlikely that Mr. Trump, no matter how desperate, is going to sign up any time soon for the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, which is actually the frontrunner at this time, (no price for this vaccine has yet been published).

That might look like Russian assistance in an election, which he has previously been accused of receiving, and which is considered a no-no in the US. Even in a global pandemic, there are global niceties to be observed.