On April 25, Pfizer was invited to speak to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development as part of its study of vaccine equity and intellectual property rights. Full remarks are below.
Pfizer and BioNTech have been firmly committed to equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines for people around the world since the beginning of the pandemic.
First, we started by introducing tiered pricing:
We established one tier for wealthier nations, such as Canada, where the price was benchmarked to historical cost of the flu vaccine
Middle income countries were asked to pay half of that price
And lower income countries were offered a non-for-profit price, which represents approximately 50 percent of the world’s population
Second, we established multiple supply pathways such as:
Direct supply agreements with governments like Canada. To date, we have delivered more than 71 million doses here.
We have a direct supply agreement with COVAX. In 2021, Pfizer/BioNTech shipped more than 250 million doses – which is more than 25% of the total COVAX supply - to more than 100 countries and territories.
We have supported Government donation programs. This includes 1 billion doses supplied to the US for donation to low- and lower-middle-income countries as well as the African Union.
We have also initiated humanitarian donations.
Third, we have deployed a reliable global manufacturing network.
As of April 17th, 3.3 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been delivered to more than 179 countries and territories in every region of the world.
We pledged to provide 2 billion doses to low- and middle-income countries in 2021 and 2022. As of April 17th, we have delivered more than 1.3 billion doses to 110 countries toward this pledge.
Our supply chain and manufacturing network spans four continents and includes more than 20 facilities. We are sharing our technology with numerous manufacturing partners, including Biovac in South Africa; Eurofarma in Brazil and many others. Our voluntary licensing agreements are with partners with a strong track record in quality vaccine production and with the ability to manufacture at large scale.
Increasingly, credible voices around the world are recognizing that patents or supply are not the issue:
The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has paused all COVID-19 vaccine donations until the third or fourth quarter of this year, stating that “the primary challenge for vaccinating the continent is no longer supply shortages but logistics challenges and vaccine hesitancy.”
The WHO has reported that many countries are struggling to achieve high uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, despite adequate supply.
The African Union and COVAX have declined options to obtain vaccines as developing nations struggle to turn supplies into inoculations.
India’s two major COVID-19 vaccine makers have halted production of vaccines, citing a high inventory and lack of new orders.
To achieve the goal of vaccinating the world’s population, we need to focus our efforts where they matter most: First, is investing in country readiness and addressing vaccine hesitancy. The real solutions to improve vaccine access include strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure to deliver the vaccine; supporting frontline health workers to administer the vaccine; vaccine hesitancy campaigns to increase acceptance of the vaccine; dose sharing; and removing trade barriers.
These are the major pandemic issues facing the developing world.
Second, we need to continue to address trade bottlenecks. Export restrictions were a significant trade barrier at the beginning of the pandemic. While they are currently manageable, there is always the risk that they will revert.
Finally, continued innovation is of paramount importance. Many companies are collaborating to support R&D and manufacturing, thanks to intellectual property and pro-innovation policies. Together we are continuing to address COVID-19 by
Designing additional vaccines that target new variants
Conducting research on specific dosages for special populations, such as children and
Creating additional formulations that will improve the storage and handling of the vaccine to make it easier to administer in less developed countries
The foundation of Intellectual Property has enabled a strong global supply network with multiple partnerships that maintain high quality standards, resulting in an industry that is now producing about 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine per month.
As you consider making recommendations to the Government, Pfizer encourages you to recognize that patents are not the obstacle to equity.