Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) struck a deal to supply 500m doses of their coronavirus vaccine to the US government, which will donate them to developing countries in a bid to “help end the pandemic”.
The vaccines will be given to the US at a not-for-profit price, with 200 million being sent this year and the remaining in 2022. One dose in the US is said to cost $19.50 (£13.80).
The US and the pharma companies will work with COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, to ensure the doses are delivered in a way that is “most efficient and equitable”.
It wasn't specified which countries would benefit from this but Pfizer's statement said the US will allocate the vaccine doses to 92 low- and lower middle-income countries and economies as defined by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (which includes countries like Morocco, Bolivia, Nepal and Cambodia) along with the 55 member states of the African Union.
The plan is part of Pfizer and BioNTech’s pledge to provide 2bn doses to developing countries over the next 18 months. The 500m doses in question will be produced in Pfizer’s US facilities which are in four states including Michigan and Massachusetts.
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Based on current projections, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to manufacture up to 3bn doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.
“COVID-19 has impacted everyone, everywhere, and to win the battle against this pandemic, we must ensure expedited access to vaccines for all. I want to thank President Biden for his leadership in protecting the least advantaged of our global neighbours,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO.
“The White House’s move is part of a nascent campaign to inoculate the world, and came as President Biden faced intense pressure to do more,” a report in the New York Times stated.
The report added that the deal was reached "just in time for Biden’s eight-day European trip, which is his first opportunity to reassert the US as a world leader and restore relations that were badly frayed by President Donald Trump".
The publication quoted Biden as saying to US troops in Suffolk, England: “We have to end COVID-19, not just at home, which we’re doing, but everywhere. There’s no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face, and there will be others. It requires coordinated multilateral action.”
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