Low-income countries could start vaccinating by Feb under Pfizer deal: WHO

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Jan 23, 2021, 08.26 AM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( AFP )

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said that it had reached an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, adding that the WHO intends to deliver vaccines to low and middle-income countries by next month, as part of its COVAX programme

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said that it had reached an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, adding that the WHO intends to deliver vaccines to low and middle-income countries by next month, as part of its COVAX programme.

COVAX is a vaccine alliance led by the WHO and the GAVI. As part of this, deals for hundreds of millions of doses have been signed-in order to inoculate people in low-income countries. Even then, vaccinations are yet to begin. 

So far, Pfizer's is the only vaccine to have received WHO's emergency approval.

"In this world, we are as protected as our neighbour," said Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla said, as reported by Reuters.

Bourla claimed that 40 million doses constitute a fraction of the company's total production estimate of 2 billion, which would be sold on a non-profit base. 

This is an initial agreement, which more doses set to be procured through the programme.

Also read: WHO says Pfizer's vaccine safe to use as concerns rise post-Norway deaths

WHO had recently criticised countries for practising vaccine inequity as rich countries rush to inoculate millions across the world.

WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that as part of the new agreement, vaccinations should begin as early as February for healthcare workers. Even then, details of supply arrangements have not been revealed.

Norway recently donated a few of its Pfizer shots, and WHO's Director-General has urged other countries to follow suit.

"The commitment of the (United States) to join COVAX, together with this new agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech, mean that we are closer to fulfilling the promise of COVAX," he said.

Also read: Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine raised hopes, but supply, efficacy concerns are hurting

US President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci on Thursday said that the US would join in the programme. His predecessor, Donald Trump had stopped funding WHO, and also announced a withdrawal process.

In the first quarter of 2021, the WHO announced plans to deliver 135 million vaccines. Even then, no breakdown of the supply was given.

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