Global firms pledge to not profit from covid-19 vaccines till pandemic ends

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NEW DELHI :
Global manufacturers AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson on Thursday pledged to supply covid-19 vaccines on a no-profit basis so as to improve access to any successful candidate when it is available in the market.

“It’s certainly a situation where we will not be charging any royalties and making no profit during the time of this pandemic,” said Pascal Soriot, executive director and chief executive officer of AstraZeneca said at a global press briefing hosted by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations.

Soriot said that vaccines, when they successfully complete clinical trials, will be available at around a few dollars per dose, relatively inexpensive compared to what even testing of the disease would cost.

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley, Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla and Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer, were also part of the briefing and made similar pledges.

Soriot also said that he expects the first successful vaccine to be ready in the market by the end of the year, with scaling up of capacity and supply expected next year, going at the current pace at which vaccines development is taking place.

“Well, the hope of many people is that we will have a vaccine before the end of this year and the capacity will continue increasing next year, both in terms of addition capacity and in terms of additional vaccine (candidates) available,” Soriot said.

Stoffels said that J&J, which is working on a vaccine through its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical, is also exploring tie-ups for manufacturing in India.

“There is a lot of capacity in India. So we are actively exploring what we can do. This is all of over the world but the very logical place for capacity is India,” he said.

Stoffels also said that considering technical challenges with manufacturing and supply of vaccine, about five to ten vaccines will be needed to serve the whole world.

AstraZeneca, for its part, is known to be in talks with Serum Institute of India over the manufacturing and supply of the much-touted covid-19 vaccine that is being developed by Oxford University.

Globally, there are now 10 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, with AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s vaccines the furthest in development. Additionally, there are over 100 vaccine candidates undergoing pre-clinical evaluation.

GSK on Thursday also announced its intention to to produce 1 billion doses of pandemic vaccine adjuvant in 2021 to support multiple COVID-19 vaccine collaborations. Unlike other vaccine manufacturers, the UK-based company is not developing its own candidate but is instead supplying its pandemic adjuvant technology to companies developing viable candidates.

An adjuvant helps reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, which allows more vaccine doses to be produced, contributing to protecting more people.

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