The coming week will be big and significant for corona vaccinations in the entire EU region - including Finland.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission can bless the marketing authorization for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca / University of Oxford.
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The vaccine, developed by US drug giant Johnson & Johnson, could also take a big step forward as the company may release the results of a final, third-phase efficacy study as early as this week.
AstraZeneca is considered a vaccine for a large section of the population and is intended to vaccinate the largest masses.
However, the company’s Friday announcement of production problems and significantly smaller deliveries than reported was a nasty setback to the start of vaccinations for large populations.
In Finland, large-scale mass vaccinations were scheduled to begin in the week beginning 8 February, but the schedule should now be postponed.
In a bad case, that means that it is the turn of basic healthy adults to get vaccinated in late summer or even fall.
Johnson & Johnson is now wanted to make up for the deficit left by AstraZeneca.
Mika Rämet, Director of the Vaccine Research Center, awaits with interest what kind of efficacy research results will come from the single-dose coronary vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva
The results of Johnson & Johnson’s first two phases of the study were promising in terms of both the protective efficacy and health safety of the vaccine in all adult age groups.
If the results of the final phase of the efficacy study show the same, Johnson & Johnson can apply for an emergency license for its vaccine in the EU as early as February.
Mika Rämet, director of the Vaccine Research Center, says that for schedule reasons, the approval of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine will go to March in practice as soon as possible.
The European Commission has a purchase agreement with Johnson & Johnson for 200 million doses of vaccine.
Finland's share in the EU joint procurement mechanism is 1.23 per cent, or 2.46 million doses.
However, Rämet is very careful in its estimates of when Johnson & Johnson could be brought to Finland on a larger scale.
According to a source interviewed by Reuters, Johnson & Johnson would start delivering vaccines to Europe in early April.
The European Commission has a 200 million dose purchase agreement with Johnson & Johnson.
Finland's share of this would be almost 2.5 million vaccine doses. Photo: Ivan Alvarado / Reuters
- So far, it is difficult to estimate in which quarters vaccines will start to come in any way.
Once the vaccines have been approved, it will then be possible to see how much the manufacturer will be able to supply, Rämet said.
- After that, it is much better known how much vaccine will be available by the end of March or June, for example.
Even at its worst, the availability of vaccines is already very good in the autumn.
In principle, production, distribution and self-vaccination are also becoming more fluid, Rämet sees.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the viral vector vaccines, meaning that coronavirus rna is delivered to the body by an adenovirus.
Rna directs cells to produce a coronavirus spike protein against which the body produces immune protection and the virus is unable to attach to the cell and infect it.
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AstraZeneca and the Russian Sputnik V belong to the same vaccine group. What makes Johnson & Johnson exceptional is that immune protection comes after a single dose.
Extensive mass vaccinations threaten to be delayed due to delivery difficulties reported by AstraZeneca.
Specialist Mervi Mendiluce received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine at Tampere University Hospital on December 28. Photo: Kalle Parkkinen / Lehtikuva
- Efficacy studies with a single dose of vaccine have not yet been performed worldwide.
It will be interesting to see the results, it is not self-evident that a single dose will provide adequate and lasting protection.
- If the results don't look good enough, Johnson & Johnson will be followed by a two-dose vaccine group.
Because of two different studies, Johnson & Johnson has been a little behind other vaccine manufacturers, Rämet says.