By LINDA A. JOHNSON, AP Medical Author
Pfizer on Friday dedicated to produce as much as 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this 12 months to a World Well being Group-backed effort to get reasonably priced pictures to poor and middle-income international locations.
The deal is a lift to the worldwide program often known as COVAX, as rich nations have snapped up many of the thousands and thousands of coming pictures.
The dedication, introduced at a digital press convention held by the Geneva-based WHO, is seen as vital as a result of Pfizer and its companion BioNTech final month gained the primary vaccine emergency authorizations from WHO and the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration.
Earlier this week, WHO Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticized drugmakers for searching for income from the pandemic and principally supplying rich international locations.
Pfizer’s 40 million doses — for a vaccine requiring two doses — are a tiny sliver of what is wanted for COVAX, which goals to vaccinate billions of individuals in 92 low- and middle-income international locations.
Throughout Friday’s information convention, Tedros mentioned Pfizer’s dedication and about 150 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford College may allow COVAX to start delivering doses in February, pending finalization of a provide settlement with Pfizer and emergency use approval for AstraZeneca’s vaccine. He mentioned the worldwide program is on monitor to ship by 12 months’s finish 2 billion doses of vaccines beforehand pledged by AstraZeneca and different vaccine producers.
New York-based Pfizer Inc. had not beforehand dedicated to offering its COVID-19 vaccine to poor international locations with out making a revenue through the pandemic, as a pair rivals have.
Nonetheless, Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech mentioned they would supply their vaccine to COVAX at an undisclosed “not-for-profit value.” The businesses nonetheless should execute a provide settlement masking distribution, however the doses are to be delivered all through 2021, beginning in February.
“Right now, we’re proud to have this chance to offer doses that can help COVAX efforts towards vaccinating healthcare staff at excessive danger of publicity in growing international locations and different weak … populations,” Pfizer Chief Govt Officer Albert Bourla mentioned.
Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, which is main procurement and supply of vaccines for COVAX, known as the deal “a significant step ahead for equitable entry to vaccines.”
Pfizer and BioNTech mentioned they’d additionally assist well being techniques deal with the vaccine, which requires ultracold storage.
Many public well being officers have expressed skepticism that the Pfizer vaccine could possibly be efficiently stored so chilly throughout the globe. Pfizer has been delivery the pictures in particular containers with dry ice, however even within the U.S. some doses have been thrown out as a result of they weren’t stored on the correct temperature.
Pfizer has mentioned it’s been ramping up manufacturing and expects to have the ability to make 2 billion doses in 2021, up from its earlier forecast of 1.3 billion doses. That long-term objective comes with a short-term value: The corporate is slowing manufacturing at its Belgium manufacturing unit whereas it makes modifications wanted to spice up manufacturing.
Observe Linda A. Johnson on Twitter: @LindaJ_onPharma
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