Pfizer came under the spotlight in pleas for it to release the formula for its vaccine. Photo: Reuters/Jeff Christensen JC
Pfizer’s (PFE) top UK executive has hit out at calls for the pharmaceutical firm and others to forgo patents on COVID-19 vaccines, ruling out an intellectual property waiver.
Pfizer leader Ben Osborn said that sharing it could lead to a shortage of raw materials “across multiple countries” and may even mean that other vaccines may be unable to fulfil their obligations.
In remarks reported by the Sunday Times he said supplies would “see a very rapid short-term impact” as a result of sharing it.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) had previously proposed to plug a gap in global vaccinations where poorer countries have fallen behind the likes of the UK and US, by letting generic vaccines onto the marketplace.
The call was widely supported, attracting backing by the Biden administration as well as more than 100 countries.
The Covax scheme has so far delivered 49 million vaccine doses, but a further $ 35bn-$ 45bn (£25bn-£32bn) is needed over thee next year to make sure most adults are immunised, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.
Pfizer has previously outlined plans to profit from the vaccine, although it sells to low-income nations at cost price.
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The news comes alongside new research from Oxford University that shows both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccines create enough antibodies to be effective against the B.1.617.2 strain of the virus, which is a faster-spreading variant.
The study also showed the more troubling variant from South Africa may be more vaccine resistant.
The research confirms the view of the UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty who said on Friday there is high confidence that vaccines provide substantial protection against people dying and being admitted to hospital.
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