U.S. and German vaccine partners Pfizer-BioNTech on Friday pledged a total of 2 billion doses of their vaccine to low- and middle-income nations as part of a global effort to close the vaccine gap between rich and poor nations.
Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla made the announcement on behalf of the pharmaceutical partners during the Global Health Summit hosted in Rome by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. The summit, designed to address vaccine inequities around the world, featured members of the Group of 20 economic powers and the European Commission — the European Union’s executive arm.
Bourla said the first billion doses of their vaccine will be delivered this year and the second in 2022. U.S. pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Johnson & Johnson also pledged donations of 200,000 and 100,000 doses respectively.
The European Union pledged “at least” 100 million doses to the effort.
Summit host Draghi called all the donations “significant and staggering.” Earlier, as he opened the summit — which many of the participants attended virtually — Draghi noted that, of the nearly 1.5 billion vaccine doses that have been administered in more than 180 countries worldwide, only 0.3% have been delivered in low-income countries, while 85% went to the world’s richest countries.
Since the pandemic began, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against what he called “vaccine nationalism,” in which the richest countries hoard vaccines while the poor nations go without. He has said that the pandemic will not be over until every nation is vaccinated.
The WHO administers the international vaccine cooperative COVAX, which delivers vaccines to the world’s lower-income nations.