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Booster shots: Vaccines once committed are not moved around: Pfizer chief

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on September 08, 2021

J&J hopeful of supplying doses to India by year-end

Vaccine supplies once committed to a country are not are moved around to another, because it is bigger or may have different needs, said Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

His comments come against the backdrop of the tug-of-war on vaccine supplies, as some countries go in for booster shots, while others wait to get primary doses across to citizens.

“We will not move around doses on the basis of, now I want to do kids or now I want to do boosters. The doses have been allocated for this year and we will maintain this allocation,” he said, adding that allocations were based on the orders that countries had already placed with them.

Of the three billion doses for this year, he said: “We have allocated 41 per cent to middle- and low-income countries, and this will not change. ... We have allocated at least one billion – although we do not have orders for one billion for low- and middle-income countries – for next year. I think its important that those that would like to receive doses, that they secure their order,” he said, addressing concerns being raised globally on the equitable distribution of vaccines.

Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson’s vaccines are awaited in India, although the latter appears to have made some headway.

Technology transfer

J&J’s Paul Stoffels, Vice-Chairman, Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, said technology transfer was underway with India’s Biological E. The active material is currently being validated and the fill and finish has started, he said.

In India, he said: “We started from scratch, completely new plant , competely new equipment, the plant was not there 18 months ago and at present its being validated for drug substance. ... there is a fill and finish line, that is what is put in place and hopefully before the year end we will be able to start delivering vaccines to India on a large scale,” he said. On indemnity to vaccine companies, he said companies were working through the World Health Organization-supported Covax facility to ensure supplies.

The heads of Pfizer and J&J were speaking at the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) media interaction. They outlined the challenges in sourcing consumables, the effort involved in transferring technology, the role of other non-vaccine Covid-19 treatments and why partnerships were preferred to Intellectual Property waivers and technology hubs, for example.

Vaccine production

Data provided by IFPMA said Covid-19 vaccines dose production would reach 7.5 billion by September-end, at a rate of nearly 1.5 billion doses each month. By January 2022, there will be sufficient vaccines produced for every adult on every continent, the note said. Further, it pointed out, that presently authorised vaccines showed continued strong protection from infection and effectiveness against hospitalisation and death, despite the Delta variant.

On supplies, projections by Airfinityindicated that even if vaccine advisory committees and governments in G7 countries vaccinate teenagers and adults and decide to give boosters to at-risk populations, “there would still be over 1.2 billion doses available for redistribution in 2021 alone,” the note said, adding that “each month for the foreseeable year, over 200 million doses would be, with effective planning, available for low- and lower-middle-income countries”.

Published on September 08, 2021

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