Pfizer-BioNTech pledge 2B doses to poor nations

People drink outdoors on bar terraces in Marseille southern France, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Cafe and restaurant terraces reopened Wednesday after a pandemic shutdown of more than six months deprived people of what feels like the essence of life in France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)People drink outdoors on bar terraces in Marseille southern France, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Cafe and restaurant terraces reopened Wednesday after a pandemic shutdown of more than six months deprived people of what feels like the essence of life in France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
Nurses march with torches to demand increases in their salary, professional recognition, and better working conditions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, amid the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Victor R.Caivano)Nurses march with torches to demand increases in their salary, professional recognition, and better working conditions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, amid the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Victor R.Caivano)
People wearing face masks, wait to walk across a traffic intersection in the famed Ginza shopping neighborhood in Tokyo on Friday, May 21, 2021. Japan has approved the use of two new vaccines - Moderna and AstraZeneca - hours ahead of an expansion of a state of coronavirus emergency that will cover roughly 40% of the population. It’s the latest effort to contain a worrying surge in infections nine weeks ahead of the opening of the Tokyo Olympics.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)People wearing face masks, wait to walk across a traffic intersection in the famed Ginza shopping neighborhood in Tokyo on Friday, May 21, 2021. Japan has approved the use of two new vaccines - Moderna and AstraZeneca - hours ahead of an expansion of a state of coronavirus emergency that will cover roughly 40% of the population. It’s the latest effort to contain a worrying surge in infections nine weeks ahead of the opening of the Tokyo Olympics.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German company BioNTech have pledged to deliver 2 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to middle- and low-income countries over the next 18 months.

The companies, which together developed the first vaccine to be authorized for use in the United States and Europe, made the announcement Friday at a global health summit in Rome co-hosted by the European Union’s executive arm and Italy.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says they expect to provide a billion of the doses this year and another billion in 2022.

It was unclear whether the deliveries would take place through the U.N.-backed COVAX program, which aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 shots for low-and middle-income countries, or if nations would get the doses at a reduced price.

The summit is drawing the Group of 20 industrial and emerging market nations, the heads of international organizations and representatives of global health bodies.

As vaccination campaigns continue to progress in the Western world, poorer countries are struggling to acquire supplies. This week, the U.N. Security Council expressed concern about the small number of doses that have reached Africa.

The Associated Press

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