Written by Elvira Pollina and Emilio Parodi
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy will receive 16 million shots of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by British pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca in the first months of 2021 under a supply agreement agreed at EU level, a government source said.
This initial care will immunize 8 million people, as the AstraZeneca vaccination requires a first admission and then a reminder, the source told Reuters on Tuesday.
“Italy will already receive 4 million shots in January and another 12 million over the next three months,” the source said, warning that this timing is a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University by the European Medicines Agency.
Rome has already booked a total of 70 million doses, and IRBM, an Italian biotechnology company that is working with AstraZeneca to develop the vaccine, told Reuters that all recordings will be submitted by mid-2021.
“The IRBM aims to distribute the first tranche of the 2-3 million doses already produced, as approved by regulators, either in December or January,” the group’s managing director, Matteo Liguori, told Reuters.
Liguori added that the IRBM has been ready to launch for some time, pre-stocking the necessary functional materials such as vials and reagents, and has increased its equipment and instruments to triple their production capacity.
Italy, the first Western country to be hit by the epidemic, became the sixth in the world to exceed 50,000 crown virus deaths on Monday and the second in Europe after Britain.
AstraZeneca’s doses will be supplemented by the initial 3.4 million Italian doses that Pfizer and its partner BioNTech will receive, which are also expected in January.
Under the EU’s supply agreement, Italy will receive a total of 27 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, or 13.6% of the 200 million originally purchased by Europe.
AstraZeneca said on Monday that vaccination prevented an average of 70% of COVID-19 cases in late-stage studies. This increased to 90% in a group of participants who accidentally received half a dose and then a full dose.
AstraZeneca says it will have 200 million doses by the end of 2020, four times the size of US competitor Pfizer. And he said 700 million servings could be ready worldwide as soon as the first quarter of 2021 is over.
The EU has provided 400 million doses of AstraZeneca’s experimental vaccine.
(Report: Elvira Pollina and Emilio Parodi; edited by Alexander Smith)