U.S. provides investment to improve global COVID vaccine capacity
To address the huge inequality in the global COVID-19 vaccine, the Biden administration took steps on Wednesday to provide drugmakers with billions of dollars in funding to expand domestic production, share it with the world, and prepare for the next pandemic Prepare.
According to this new initiative, the government’s Advanced Biomedical Research and Development Agency is recruiting pharmaceutical companies with the ability to produce more effective mRNA vaccines to bid for US investment to expand production scale. Pfizer and Moderna produce two US-approved mRNA injections.
The White House hopes that this move will increase the ability to produce an additional 1 billion photos per year.
The initiative came as the Biden White House was facing increasing domestic and foreign pressure on the issue of global vaccine supply unfairness-the United States is moving towards approving vaccination for all adults, and disadvantaged groups in poorer countries Waiting for their first dose of protection.
According to the analysis of the ONE Campaign, an international aid and advocacy organization, only 4.7% of people living in low-income countries received the first dose of the vaccine. Rich countries have injected more than 173 million booster shots, while low-income countries have injected about 32 million shots.
The Biden administration believes that improving COVID-19 injection capacity will help alleviate the problem of global dose shortages, especially in low- and middle-income countries, prevent preventable deaths and limit the development of potential new and more dangerous virus variants.
Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 coordinator, said: “The goal of the plan is to increase existing capacity by another 1 billion doses per year and start production in the second half of 2022.”
On Wednesday, Zients announced that the United States has donated 250 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine worldwide — the most of any country — with the goal of sharing more than 1.1 billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2022.
There has not yet been an agreement with Moderna or Pfizer on this investment, but the Biden administration hopes that by supporting the company’s facilities, equipment, employees or training, the enhanced manufacturing capacity will allow more COVID-19 doses in mid-2022. Share overseas and help prepare for the next public health emergency.
The government is prioritizing mRNA vaccines, which have been shown to be more effective in preventing serious illness and death caused by COVID-19 than the Johnson & Johnson virus vector vaccine, which uses harmless viruses that carry genetic material to stimulate the immune system. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made using a piece of genetic code called messenger RNA, which tells the body to make a harmless copy of the spike protein in order to train it to recognize viruses.
Robbie Silverman, senior advocacy manager at Oxfam USA, welcomed Biden’s plan to invest in vaccine production capacity, but said it was far from enough.
“What the world really needs is decentralized regional vaccine production capacity. It sounds like the focus of this investment is to build American capacity,” he said. “We urgently need companies that monopolize the COVID vaccine to transfer their technology, and we need the U.S. government to use its influence.”
Silverman estimates that if the company does not teach how to make a COVID-19 vaccine, it will take twice as long for manufacturers elsewhere to start manufacturing doses, noting that billions of vaccines against other diseases are usually in development. Produced in China.
Silverman said that although the United States should negotiate the fairness of vaccines while ensuring its own supply, it is not too late to act. He said that the United States should support the proposed exemption drafted by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization, calling for a suspension of patents for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. He said that the United States can invoke the National Defense Production Act to target key components of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The U.S. government has many tools to promote pharmaceutical companies,” he said, noting that it has invested billions of dollars to develop Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. “The United States needs to ensure that the companies they fund prioritize public health rather than profit.”
Ava Alkon, a senior policy and research officer at Médecins Sans Frontières, said that the 1 billion doses of vaccine that the United States may invest in is still far from the number needed to immunize the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 11 billion doses are needed.
Alkon said that since any newly drafted manufacturer of COVID-19 doses will not be able to produce any supplies for several months, a more direct solution is needed. She said: “We believe that the United States can continue to allocate much more than the existing dose,” she called on the United States to be more transparent about how many additional doses it has. She said some estimates suggest that by the end of this year, there may be at least 500 million remaining vaccines in the United States.
Moderna said in a statement that it has not reviewed the Biden administration’s proposal, but it looks forward to discussing with the government, “and to understand whether we can play a role in supporting the government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.” Pfizer declined to comment. .
The New York Times first reported on this new initiative.