BRUSSELS (NewsNation Now) — Pfizer and BioNTech pledged on Friday to deliver 1 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to poorer nations this year and another 1 billion next year, the boss of Pfizer said.
The pledge could significantly address the unequal distribution across the world of COVID-19 vaccines, which have so far been sold disproportionately more to richer countries.
“Pfizer and BioNTech are pledging to provide 2 billion doses of our COVID-19 vaccines to middle- and low-income countries over the next 18 months,” Albert Bourla told a global health summit.
Bourla said that low-income countries would be offered the vaccines at cost, while middle-income nations would pay about half the price of wealthier nations, which are estimated to have paid around 20 dollars per dose.
“We expect to provide 1 billion of these doses to low- and middle-income countries this year. And we pledge to deliver another 1 billion doses to these countries in 2022,” Bourla said.
The announcement comes just days after President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. will share an additional 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the world in the coming six weeks, according to a senior administration official. Those doses would come from existing U.S. production of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks, Biden said.
It comes on top of the Biden’s administration’s prior commitment to share about 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of June. The AstraZeneca vaccine is widely in use around the world but not yet authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Biden’s announcement came as U.S. states are seeing drops in vaccination numbers and countries like India are scrambling to get vaccines to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Pfizer vaccine was the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the United States last year and just two weeks after the United States authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 for children aged 12 to 15.
In beginning clinical trials, the vaccine was 95% effective at preventing illness and showed no short-term safety issues.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Alex Richardson and Giles Elgood. Reuters contributed to this report.