“You don’t need a recall and it works on variants” – Corriere.it

Massimo Scaccabarozzi, you are president and CEO of Janssen Italia, Johnson & Johnson group, and president of Farmindustria. Where is your vaccine at?

“We have filed phase 3 of the trial, it should be authorized by the EMA (European Medicines Agency) by March: it was tested on 43,783 participants of various age groups and various latitudes, from the US to Latin America, South Africa, in the period in which the contagion was highest. Which protects us from variations. The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said he had high expectations on our vaccine ».

«A single dose, no storage temperature problems: at 2/8 degrees it is stable for three months, at -20 degrees for two years. It was especially tested on patients who had other pathologies (obesity, diabetes, cancer, HIV). Result: 100% coverage against the risk of hospitalization or death, 85% against severe forms of Covid. We also tested the vaccine in South Africa at a time when the variant was already in circulation, and the average efficacy in moderate to severe forms stood at 66% ».

Does the vaccine prevent contagion?

“There is currently no evidence that vaccines can prevent transmission. Longer observation times are needed ».

What technology do you use?

“That of adenovirus: the platform is the same as that used for the Ebola vaccine, and it is the one common to influenza vaccines, therefore very tolerable. We have just asked the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for authorization for emergency situations: it could arrive by February ».

«The approval process follows different processes. In addition there is that each EU country, in turn, must authorize ».

What agreement is there with the EU?

“A pre-emption for 200 million doses, plus an option for another 200 million. For Italy the arrival of 27 million doses for as many people is expected. Without recall ».

Your agreement with the EU was closed last October, in Great Britain they closed agreements in May 2020. Is the EU always late?

“In May, it was not even known whether the vaccines would pass the research phase. I would rather emphasize the importance of the coalition that Minister Speranza created with Germany, France and the Netherlands and which led to the joint booking of vaccines. Without it, the weaker countries today would have nothing in their hands ».

Can we produce vaccines in Italy?

“Yes, the anti-flu ones, but the bioreactors are not compatible for Covid”.

And what can be done in Italy in a short time?

«Based on the research we have done upstream, the Anagni plant can do the finishing and filling of the vaccines. At the moment there are a couple of companies that could do the same and some others, like Fidia, who have proposed themselves ».

Does it make sense to create plants from scratch in Italy that carry out the entire process?

“Implants are not improvised. In any case, it would not be worth it, given that soon the world production of vaccines will be fully operational with the existing plants ».

«It depends on the various industrial plans. But I would say by 2021, optimistically by the summer ». Why were some vaccines bought at much higher prices than others? «The cost of a dose is in the order of a few euros. But vaccines are different: ours is kept in the fridge at home. And then the price is negotiated, in this case between the EU and companies. Everyone behaves as he thinks, but I believe that everyone has moved with conscience. Our choice was to sell the vaccine at cost in the emergency phase. Then, once fully operational, we will make the market price ».

Businesses are late. Did they get their predictions wrong or did they take all possible orders before the price drops?

“As far as I know, all the companies have signed a commitment to” do their best “to deliver the doses by 2021”.

Which makes it impossible now to sue. Has the policy made optimistic announcements about administration times?

“But why do we always have to highlight the problem and not the opportunities?”

“The companies have managed to find more vaccines within a year, and sorry if it’s not enough. Let’s recognize it. If our health system had received 50 million doses and wanted to distribute them in 30 days, would it have been able to inoculate one million and 660,000 doses in one day? So we do the vaccines, but then we need the syringes, the stackers, the vaccination register … ».

Was the pace of vaccination not sustained?

«Up until a week ago, 70% of the available product had been used. Now that the deliveries will restart, and will start again, we must reach 90% ».

If she had to choose, who would vaccinate first?

“It’s not my job, but I’d focus on teachers.”

Would you buy Russian or Chinese vaccines?

“If the authorities approved them, I would be happy to have more vaccines. Fortunately, in this field there is no sympathy or hearsay ».

February 9, 2021 (change February 10, 2021 | 08:05)


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