Pfizer, BioNTech to Supply Up to 40 Million Shots to Covax
(Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE will supply as many as 40 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to Covax, a global alliance many poorer countries are relying on to protect their populations.
Shipments will start in the first quarter and continue throughout 2021, the companies said in a statement. The agreement follows pacts with AstraZeneca Plc, whose shot is approved in the U.K., and other drugmakers such as Johnson & Johnson that are working on potential vaccines.
Questions remain about when vast swaths of the world will gain access to Covid vaccines as wealthy countries, including the U.S., Britain and members of the European Union, ramp up their immunization drives. This week, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was on “the brink of a catastrophic moral failure” as countries rush to finish their own deals and try to “jump to the front of the queue.”
The doses Covax secured from Pfizer and BioNTech will be enough to immunize as many as 20 million people -- a fraction of what is flowing to wealthier nations. The U.S. has ordered 200 million doses, to be delivered by July 31, while the EU this month doubled its supply to as many as 600 million doses.
Not for Profit
Pfizer will provide the vaccine to Covax at a not-for-profit price, Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in a press conference. The company will also work to ensure storage systems are in place for the vaccine, he said. “This is just one step in our long-term commitment to supporting developing countries.”
Meanwhile, pressure is growing for quicker shipments to existing contract partners, with European governments complaining about a slowdown this month due to renovations at a Pfizer factory in Belgium.
Covax partners said last month that they had gained access to almost 2 billion doses of Covid shots, though many of those are vaccines that aren’t yet approved. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is leading the effort along with the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. The U.S. will join Covax, infectious-disease chief Anthony Fauci said on Thursday, a day after President Joe Biden’s inaugeration.
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