Covid-19 roundup: Europe reserves 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer vaccines; Republicans slam Biden's TRIPS waiver support
The European Commission on Thursday signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech that will allow for the purchase of 900 million doses of the current vaccine and of a vaccine adapted to variants, with the option to purchase an additional 900 million doses.
The EU currently has 600 million Pfizer doses through 2021, and the additional 900 million are expected beginning in December 2021 and continuing into 2023.
In total, the EU may have access to up to 2.4 billion Pfizer doses, all of which are planned to be manufactured in the EU.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told Axios in an interview yesterday that the company feels “quite comfortable” that it’ll make 3 billion doses of its vaccine for the world by the end of 2021, and another up to 4 billion doses in 2022.
He said approximately 1 billion doses will go to low- and middle-income countries this year, most of which will come in the second half of the year.
Longer refrigerator storage for Pfizer’s vaccines
Pfizer submitted data to the FDA to demonstrate that undiluted, thawed vials of its vaccine are stable at refrigerator temperatures of 2°C to 8°C (35°F to 46°F) for up to 1 month, FDA added.
Republican senators to Biden trade officials: TRIPS waiver is ‘disastrous decision’
Republican senators blasted US trade representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, calling the Biden administration’s support for temporarily halting intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines a “disastrous decision.”
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and 10 others claimed the waiver would “force American companies to give their medical technology and manufacturing processes to foreign adversaries like China.”
They also reasoned that there are not enough vaccine doses at this time because “the supply chain lacks the technological capacity. Vaccine production is a complex technical and logistical process, with limited technical resources (e.g., skilled scientists and technicians at companies). At best, all President Biden’s giveaway to China and India and others will do is foster uncoordinated vaccine nationalism, as countries jump in to try to coerce technology transfer and manufacturing locally.”
Pfizer and Moderna have also both made clear in recent weeks that they are not going to help any companies trying to make copycat versions of their products, especially as they would be vying for the same raw materials and necessary equipment.
Tai, who’s responsible for negotiating the waiver at the WTO on behalf of the Biden administration, testified before the Senate Finance Committee last week. For countries where less than 2% of their people are vaccinated, this is an existential crisis, Tai said, stressing the urgency and temporary nature of the decision.
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