India’s Top COVID-19 Vaccine Makers Halt Production, "Dumb Luck" and a New Variant


Maybe it’s a positive sign that two biopharmaceutical companies in India have decided there’s so little demand for their COVID-19 vaccine that they’ve halted manufacturing. We can only hope that it means the pandemic may be coming to an end. For that and more COVID-19 news, continue reading.

India’s Two Vaccine Makers Halt Production as Demand Drops

India’s top two major COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, the Serum Institute of India (SSI) and Bharat Biotech, have stopped manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines. The two companies were responsible for more than 98% of COVID-19 vaccines in the country with Covishield and Covaxin. But because demand is now down, they have halted production at their facilities. Their supply deals with the government of India ended on March 31 and there are no new orders. They intend to shift focus to non-COVID vaccines.

A source with SII said, “Whatever batches of Covaxin are in production will be finished and dispatched. The vaccine takes 120 days to make. Thereafter, there will be no Covaxin production until we have definite orders.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently suspended the supply of Bharat’s Covaxin via UN procurement agencies. The WHO also recommended that countries receiving the vaccines take appropriate actions, without specifying what those actions might be. The suspension is apparently related to post-emergency use listing inspections. WHO stated that there was no indication there were safety or efficacy issues with the vaccine.

Why Some People Don’t Catch Covid

A peculiarity of COVID-19 is how some people get seriously ill, while others have no symptoms or don’t get infected at all after exposure. Several researchers have suggested that, aside from specific known risk factors, such as age, obesity and diabetes, it’s mostly “dumb luck.” The results of a “challenge trial” in the U.K. — where volunteers are intentionally infected with the virus — have yet to show a specific reason why some don’t become infected, although the data is still being analyzed.

Certainly, for people who are vaccinated and have breakthrough infections, exposure plays a major role. In other words, it likely requires significant exposure. Another study found that about 10% of patients who developed severe COVID-19 pneumonia have a common genetic variant.

Current China Outbreak Appears to Be a New Subtype

China has been reporting a new surge, with more than 13,000 new COVID-19 infections. In a patient who lived about 43 miles from Shanghai, the virus was isolated with a new variant that seems to have evolved from the BA.1.1 branch of Omicron. It’s not the same subtype that exists in other parts of China or that has been submitted to GISAID, a global database of coronavirus mutations. Of the 13,000 cases reported, 12,000 have been asymptomatic. At the moment, 25 million people in the Shanghai area are under some type of quarantine.

In Hong Kong, the head of a team of Chinese medical experts urged for wider use of traditional Chinese medicine to treat COVID-19 patients at home. Others have suggested that those with mild COVID-19 cases should be placed into home isolation instead of centralized quarantine at a government facility. At least part of the issue in China is that it has only approved domestically manufactured vaccines, which do not perform as well as some of the other international vaccines, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines.

Man Gets 90 Vaccines to Perpetrate Fraud

In Germany, a 60-year-old man reportedly received about 90 COVID-19 vaccinations so he could sell forged vaccination cards with real vaccine batch numbers. The buyers, presumably, are people who did not want to get vaccinated. The man was from the eastern German city of Magdeburg. He has not been jailed but is under investigation. He appeared at a vaccination center in Eilenburg in Saxony for the second day in a row, and local police confiscated blank vaccination cards and launched criminal proceedings.

Germany has been undergoing a surge of cases, but most pandemic safety measures ended on Friday. Wearing masks isn’t mandatory in grocery stores and most theaters, but it is still required on public transportation. Schools have largely dropped mask mandates. German public health officials think the surge caused by the BA.2 Omicron subvariant may have peaked.

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