Madrid Desk, Jan 7 (efe-epa).- The WHO on Thursday called for safe flexibility in administering the Pfizer vaccine, while the pandemic leaves some 4,000 firms at risk of collapse in the UK.
German pharmaceutical manufacturers CureVac and Bayer have announced they are collaborating on the development of a new covid-19 vaccine, as rising infection rates force lockdowns to be extended in countries like the Czech Republic and Portugal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called for safe flexibility on the timing of the two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine.
WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge referred to recommendations issued this week by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) to delay the second dose by 21-28 days to allow more time for others to receive the first dose.
“It is important that such a decision represents a safe compromise between the limited global production capacity at the moment, and the imperative for governments to protect as many people as possible while reducing the burden of any subsequent wave on the health systems,” Kluge said at a press conference.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) advised against delaying the second dose of the vaccine by more than 42 days for optimum effectiveness based on a study where the doses were given between 19 to 42 days apart.
The WHO also stressed the importance of increasing efforts to control the new, more infectious mutation of the virus that has appeared in the United Kingdom, although the evidence suggests that it is not a more severe strain and that vaccines would be effective against it.
The covid-19 pandemic has left some 4,000 firms in the financial services sector in the United Kingdom close to collapse, according to an analysis by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the sector’s regulator.
According to the FCA, in a survey of 23,000 financial companies, 4,000 already had low financial stability and a greater chance of going bankrupt by the end of October.
The government announced at the end of last year that financial support which helps firms pay up to 80 percent of workers’ wages, will be extended until April 2021.
This week, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, also announced a new aid package valued at 4.5 billion pounds ($6.1 billion).
Companies in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors could receive up to 9,000 pounds per business.
The Czech Republic government extended their lockdown on Thursday by two weeks until 22 January amid increasingly high infection rates.
The country reported 17,668 cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic.
At a press conference, the Health Minister, Jan Blatny, announced the extension of closures of bars, shops as well as travel restrictions, which were originally scheduled to last until 10 January.
The government on 14 December introduced a new curfew, restrictions on movement, the closure of non-essential shops, restaurants and entertainment venues and a return to distance learning.
This week, the Prime Minister, the liberal populist Andrej Babis, presented a national vaccination plan, which will begin February 1.