US, Pfizer to lower global vaccine donations due to 'reduced demand'

The U.S. and Pfizer will be lowering their number of global vaccine donations in response to a “reduced demand,” though the company says it is still committed to supplying the roughly 1 billion doses that the U.S. has committed to providing.

Last year, the Biden administration committed to donating at least 1.1 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to low- and middle-income countries.

According to a statement from Pfizer, more than 400 million doses have been donated to 79 countries so far.

“And by the end of 2022, we expect to deliver 600 million vaccine doses for this program,” the company said.

“While we have sufficient supply to fulfil the commitment for 1 billion doses to this program, we are seeing reduced demand in some low- and lower-middle-income countries due to barriers in administration and vaccine hesitancy,” Pfizer said. “As a result, Pfizer and the U.S. government have agreed to revise the terms of this contract to allow more time to address vaccination barriers.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House and U.S. Agency for International Development for comment.

Throughout the pandemic, global stakeholders have criticized what they have characterized as wealthy nations hoarding pandemic supplies such as vaccines. One initiative created to combat this trend is COVAX, which was designed to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.

According to a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO), which co-leads COVAX, the global vaccine initiative has so far donated more than 1.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to 146 countries.

However, the same report acknowledged that there were inherent issues in the program’s launch, including the initial time it took to fund and establish COVAX, during which demand far outmatched available supply.

“This meant that, with a limited set of approved products in the early stages of global rollout, COVAX was disproportionately impacted by manufacturers prioritizing earlier bilateral customers for early supply — as well as by export restrictions that further impacted supply of the majority of the volumes expected to be available to COVAX in the first half of 2021,” the WHO report read.

Reuters reported earlier this year that COVAX was seeking to slow or cut down vaccine deliveries in order to keep doses from going to waste. COVAX was reportedly seeking between 400 million and 600 million fewer doses than what six pharmaceutical companies — including Pfizer and Moderna — had been contracted for.

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