Pfizer, Moderna pledge more Covid-19 vaccines for poorer countries

The pledges come after some drugmakers and wealthy countries have faced criticism for not prioritising vaccine equity. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Pfizer and other drugmakers have pledged to get more Covid 19 vaccines to poorer countries over the next 18 months, ramping up efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The pledges from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were made at a summit of Group of 20 (G-20) nations on Friday (May 21). At the event, leaders pledged to prioritise multilateralism to tackle the virus and prevent future outbreaks - a bid to turn the page on damaging tensions in the response to the pandemic.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of international cooperation," said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, whose country holds the G-20 presidency.

Pfizer's numbers amount to one billion doses next year for low- and middle-income countries, on top of a similar target for this year.

Moderna is also planning to deliver more shots, while J&J said it is in talks to supply 300 million in 2022.

"We will not be safe until everyone is protected across the world," Mr Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, told the summit.

The pledges come after some drugmakers and wealthy countries have faced criticism for not prioritising vaccine equity enough while making billions of dollars from their shots.

Pfizer has forecast sales of US$26 billion (S$35 billion) for its vaccine this year, with Moderna set to make about US$19 billion.

AstraZeneca was the first company to agree to contribute to the Covax sharing initiative for lower-income economies last year and is providing the vaccine at cost during the period of the pandemic.

Leaders at the gathering were due to sign the so-called Declaration of Rome, a set of guiding principles ranging from ensuring fair distribution of vaccines to ramping up production and possibly using compulsory licences, according to officials who asked not to be identified ahead of the talks.

"As we prepare for the next pandemic, our priority must be to ensure that we all overcome the current one together," said Mr Draghi, who is jointly hosting the summit with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. The two will hold a news conference after the event.

Ms Von der Leyen said the European Union aims to donate at least 100 million doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of this year.

She said vaccines must "reach everybody everywhere, not only through sharing and export but also by spreading manufacturing capacities to more regions".

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