Pfizer to supply 40M COVID-19 shots for poor countries

Grant Boone
January 23, 2021

New American CDC data released Friday shows that just 10 people who've gotten Moderna's vaccine in the U.S. have had severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions, among more than four million shots delivered.

The World Health Organization said on Friday it had reached an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine and should be able to start delivering vaccines to poor and lower-middle income countries next month under its COVAX programme.

Doctors Without Borders said the 40 million doses offered to Covax by Pfizer were a drop in the ocean and a lamentable "pittance" compared to the direct deals it has struck with high-income countries.

The vaccine from BioNTech and US partner Pfizer was initially sold in the European Union in vials meant to deliver five doses, but a global shortage of shots and a viability assessment on dosage convinced the European Union drugs regulator to approve on January 8 the extraction of six doses from the same vials.

The cause of the reaction in response to the vaccines remains unknown, although both products use similar medical technologies and require two doses for maximum effectiveness.

The global program previously secured access to almost 2 billion doses of vaccines from five other vaccine producers, plus options on a billion doses more.

Earlier this week, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus had criticized vaccine manufacturers for seeking profit by enabling wealthier countries to buy up the available supply of vaccines.

Reports of Allergic Reactions to Moderna Vaccine
The previously suspect lot, Moderna 041L20A, represented a week's worth of doses for the state. All individuals reported to OHA who experienced adverse events have recovered.

Pfizer headquarters in New York City.

Pfizer has agreed to provide their vaccines to the COVAX initiative of which Albania is a part of.

"We share the mission of COVAX and are proud to work together so that developing countries have the same access as the rest of the world, which will bring us another step closer to ending this global pandemic", Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in a statement.

On Thursday, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said the missing doses would be delivered from mid-February.

It also said that the risk-benefit balance of the Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine "remains favourable in the elderly". Pfizer has been shipping the shots in special containers with dry ice, but even in the US some doses have been thrown out because they weren't kept at the proper temperature.

COVAX said they hope to distribute around 1.8 billion doses in 2021 to 92 lower-income countries. That long-term goal comes with a short-term cost: The company is slowing production at its Belgium factory while it makes changes needed to boost production.

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