Poor Countries to Receive Low-Cost Medicines from Pfizer


During the peak of the pandemic, everyone hoped for a vaccine to be invented that would eliminate the virus completely or at least curb its spread. Today even though most people have been vaccinated, there are still some who choose not to, but also there are many who have not been able to because of adequate stock.


Earlier this month, the head of the World Health Organization called on Pfizer to make its COVID-19 treatment more widely available in poorer countries. After this request, at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, Pfizer said that it will manufacture nearly two dozen products, including the COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, at a minimal rate in some of the world’s poorest countries.


The drug company said it aimed to improve health equity in 45 lower-income countries. From the list of 45 countries, the majority of them are in Africa, but the list also includes Cambodia, Haiti, North Korea, and Cambodia. Pam Eisele, a company spokeswoman said that only a limited number of medicines and vaccines are currently available in the countries mentioned in the list.


New York-based Pfizer will charge only manufacturing costs and “minimal” distribution expenses, Eisele said. It will comply with any sanctions and all other applicable laws. 23 medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, some cancers, and rare inflammatory conditions are going to be made available.


Along with the distribution of medicine, the drug maker also plans to provide public education, training for health care workers, and drug supply management.


“What we discovered through the pandemic was that supply was not enough to resolve the issues that these countries are having,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said Wednesday during a talk at Davos.


Bourla noted that though billions of the COVID-19 vaccine doses have been offered for free to low-income countries, those doses can’t be used now.


People’s Vaccine Alliance, a grouping of human rights organizations advocating for broader sharing of vaccines and their underlying technology said, Pfizer’s plan will still leave many middle-income countries and other nations “to pay through the nose for lifesaving drugs they can’t afford.”


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