Covid-19 vaccine companies promise 3.5 billion doses for poorer countries

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson told a G20 health summit on Friday that they will deliver approximately 3.5 billion vaccine doses at cost or discount to middle and low-income countries this year and next.

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will deliver two billion doses “in the next 18 months,” including one billion by 2021, said chairman and CEO Albert Bourla.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel announced “up to 95 million doses” by 2021 and “up to 900 million” by 2022, including through the Covax vaccine-sharing program.

Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s vice chairman and chief scientific officer, said the company had a deal with Covax for up to 200 million doses by 2021, discussing “the potential delivery of an additional 300 million … for a combined total. of up to 500 million doses “.

Leaders of the world’s largest economies kicked off a global health summit on Friday where drug manufacturers were expected to pledge vaccines to poorer countries at a discounted price to end the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group of 20 (G20) countries appeared to be calling for voluntary licensing and technology transfer to allow for a rapid increase in vaccine production, but will see an attempt by the United States and other countries to forgo valuable patents for injections bypass.

The European Union will also pledge to set up vaccine production centers in Africa, which is suffering from dose shortages.

The one-day virtual event, hosted by G20 President Italy and the European Commission, is heralded as the first major summit to focus on ways to overcome the health crisis that has killed millions and prevent future such disasters.

“As we prepare for the next pandemic, our priority must be to make sure that we all overcome the current one together. We need to vaccinate the world, and do it quickly,” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in an opening address.

We work closely with our industry partners to deliver vaccines to low and middle income countries.

They just pledged to make 1.3 billion doses available to these countries by 2021.

1 billion from @BioNTech_Group @ Pfizer 200 million from @ JNJNews100m from @Moderna_tx

– Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 21, 2021

While vaccination campaigns are underway in many developed countries and are triggering a dramatic drop in the number of new cases, very few shots have reached the less developed countries, where the virus is still raging, sometimes out of control.

A series of leaders, including the presidents of China, India, France and South Africa, will address the meeting, along with heads of multinational organizations, American philanthropist Bill Gates and numerous health experts.

However, US President Joe Biden is not named among the speakers, the organizers said.

Earlier in May, the Biden administration backed calls from many developing countries to waive patents for Covid-19 vaccines, in the hope that this would boost production and allow for a fairer distribution of the injections around the world.

Africa hubs

However, the draft final statement that Reuters has seen makes no mention of such a mechanism, which has been challenged by a number of European countries, which have instead called for the removal of U.S. trade barriers they see as the main bottleneck to ramping up vaccine production.

The EU announced a new initiative on Friday to support local production in Africa, as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said vaccines should reach “everyone, everywhere”.

In her opening speech, von der Leyen said Europe would donate at least 100 million doses to poorer countries by the end of the year.

Friday, The GAVI Vaccine Alliance said it had agreed to purchase 200 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as it seeks to fill a major gap in its vaccine-sharing program.

World leaders seem to recognize the importance of the so-called ACT-Accelerator, a World Health Organization (WHO) tool to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world.

Exceed initial expectations, but they are unlikely to commit to fully fund the program, which is still € 15 billion ($ 19 billion) short to meet its goals.

( Jowhar with REUTERS and AFP)

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