Story at a glance

  • The global program known as COVAX, which includes the participation of 190 countries, started early in the pandemic to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday announced they would provide 40 million doses of their vaccine to COVAX at an undisclosed “not-for-profit-price.”
  • Doses are expected to be distributed in the first quarter of 2021 and throughout the year.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its partner BioNTech plan to supply up to 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine this year to the World Health Organization-backed effort aimed at providing poor and middle-income countries with critical vaccines. 

The global program known as COVAX, which includes the participation of 190 countries, started early in the pandemic to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are made available. 


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Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday announced they would provide their vaccine to COVAX at an undisclosed “not-for-profit-price,” and doses are expected to be distributed in the first quarter of 2021 and throughout the year.

COVAX has secured almost 2 billion doses of vaccine, although many of those are vaccines that have yet to receive approval. Pfizer won the first emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in December, allowing other countries to expedite their regulatory approval processes and begin administering the vaccine. 

“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 and proving that Science Will Win for everyone, everywhere,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said the deal will allow vaccine doses to begin being delivered to participating countries next month. He said that pending emergency authorization, 150 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine will also become available for distribution in the first quarter. 

“Together, these announcements mean COVAX could begin delivering doses in February, provided we can finalize a supply agreement for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and emergency use listing for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine,” Tedros said during a news briefing Friday. 

“COVAX is on track to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of year. This agreement also opens the door for countries who are willing to share doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to donate them to COVAX and support rapid rollout,” he said. 

Tedros earlier this week warned that the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines was at “serious risk” as the overwhelming majority of vaccinations that have been administered around the globe so far occurred in wealthy nations. 


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Published on Jan 22, 2021