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17 May, 2021 14:25

Supply, not ‘science’, is biggest problem facing Covid vaccines, Oxford professor who worked on AstraZeneca jab tells RT

Supply, not ‘science’, is biggest problem facing Covid vaccines, Oxford professor who worked on AstraZeneca jab tells RT

Logistical problems, not the science or patents behind the drugs, are the biggest hurdle for Covid-19 vaccines, an Oxford scientist who headed the team that created the AstraZeneca jab told RT in an interview. 

During an appearance on Going Underground, Dr. Adrian Hill said that the most urgent issue facing worldwide inoculation programs was actually related to manufacturing and distribution. 

“The biggest problem with Covid vaccination on the planet at the moment is vaccine supply, not science. It’s manufacturing, it’s availability, it’s getting vaccine to places where there isn’t enough vaccine,” he told the program’s host, Afshin Rattansi. 

He noted that the global community was aiming to deliver as much as eight billion doses of Covid vaccine by the end of the year, presenting formidable and unprecedented logistical challenges.

He said that the monumental task was made more difficult by the fact that the vaccine utilizes new technologies. 

“The scale of manufacturing required is just extraordinarily high. And the manufacturing facilities that we would need to distribute eight billion doses around the world frankly do not exist,” he said, stressing that it wasn’t just a matter of capacity, but also an issue of lacking enough people who are properly trained to manufacture the vaccines. 

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Addressing concerns about cases of blood clotting linked to the AstraZeneca drug, Hill said that “we don’t know what is happening yet” and that there was a “huge” amount of research looking into the issue. He explained that data collected over the past few weeks suggests that the second dose of the AstraZeneca jab doesn’t seem to cause the same adverse effects, describing the recent findings as a “clue” about what might be going on. He said that a solution to the problem would hopefully be found in the coming months, perhaps involving reducing the dose of the vaccine or administering it via a “different route.”

Starting in March, several countries around the world temporarily halted their rollout of the AstraZeneca jab, following reports of abnormal blood clotting in recipients. AstraZeneca, as well as the European Medicines Agency, have insisted that the vaccine is safe.

The Oxford professor also weighed in on the ongoing controversy regarding whether patents should be lifted on Covid-19 vaccines in a bid to make them more accessible. The proposal was recently backed by US President Joe Biden, who called on pharmaceuticals to waive their patent rights. According to Hill, revoking patents for Covid vaccines would do little to speed up manufacturing and distribution. 

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“If you don’t have the manufacturing facilities, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got patents or not,” he said, adding that it was “wonderful and idealistic” to have no patents for the vaccines, but that the decision should have been made “at the start” and not months after the drugs went into development. 

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