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Covid vaccine: Pfizer starts talks with Covax facility for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

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NEW DELHI: Pfizer has opened discussions with the Covax facility for equitable distribution of its potential vaccine, the US pharmaceutical company told ET. On the distribution challenges due to the necessity of deep refrigeration for the vaccine, Pfizer said it had a detailed logistical plan in place.

The company is in discussions with the Gavi vaccine alliance to potentially provide doses to the Covax facility, a Pfizer spokesperson told ET, adding: “It is our intention to achieve equitable global distribution of vaccine supply in alignment with identified priority populations.”

Co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization, the Covax facility is a global collaboration for speeding up development, manufacturing and equitable distribution of new vaccines against Covid-19.

India is part of the Covax facility, which secures 20% of the vaccine doses made by the participating companies in tranches for several countries.

Taking cognisance of the concerns over the extremely cold temperature required for the storage of its vaccine, Pfizer said it had a detailed logistical plan and tools to support vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring to overcome the challenges. “We have developed packaging and storage innovations to be fit for purpose for the range of locations where we believe vaccinations will take place. We have specially designed temperature-controlled thermal shippers utilising dry ice. The intent is to utilise Pfizer-strategic transportation partners to ship by air to major hubs within a country, region and by ground transport to dosing locations,” said the company spokesperson.

The company also plans to utilise GPS-enabled thermal sensors in thermal shippers with a control tower that will track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment. “These GPS-enabled devices will allow Pfizer to proactively prevent unwanted deviations and act before they happen,” the spokesperson said.

The company released its positive preliminary data this week and proposes to supply 50 million vaccine doses this year proportionally across the countries where it has executed supply agreements.

The vaccine has the potential to be an important part of India’s early vaccine response to the pandemic in priority geographies and populations, the executive said.

“Pfizer is committed to ensuring the availability of this vaccine for use by governments across the world. We seek to work with governments to support distribution to their defined priority groups. We remain committed to engaging with the Government of India to advance our dialogue and explore opportunities to make this vaccine available for use in the country,” the spokesperson said.

Based on current projections, the company expects to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses this year and up to 1.3 billion in 2021.

So far, the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Qatar, Peru and Canada have placed advance orders with Pfizer for the supply of its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

The company spokesperson said the price of the vaccine would be based on the principles of ensuring broad access and supplies to governments. “This is reflected in all aspects of our agreements with various governments with the pricing strategy being an outcome of volume, advanced commitment, equity and affordability principles,” the spokesperson said.

Pfizer has created two dedicated supply lines with established vaccine capabilities — one each in the US and Europe — to manufacture the vaccine.

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