According to Gavi and WHO data on doses allocated by the COVAX programme for future shipments, Pfizer is slated to take over in the first quarter of next year.
Pfizer To Oust AstraZeneca As Top COVAX Supplier And Supply Vaccines To Poorer Countries
Pfizer and BioNTech are expected to take over from AstraZeneca as the primary suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines to the international COVAX programme at the beginning of 2022, indicating the growing importance of their vaccine for developing and underdeveloped countries.
The anticipated shift creates complications for receiving countries that lack adequate cold storage capacity to handle the Pfizer vaccines and face the possibility of a syringe shortage to give the injection.
According to statistics from Gavi, the vaccination partnership that co-manages the COVAX programme with the World Health Organisation, AstraZeneca, is now the most widely distributed vaccine by COVAX (WHO).
The initiative has so far administered over 600 million doses in almost 150 countries, including over 220 million administered by AstraZeneca and around 160 million administered by Pfizer.
However, according to Gavi and WHO data on doses allocated by the COVAX programme for future shipments, Pfizer is slated to take over in the first quarter of next year.
COVAX is scheduled to deliver additional 150 million Pfizer doses by the end of March, according to a WHO document.
Gavi stated that Pfizer is considerably ahead of AstraZeneca in terms of “assigned" vaccines, with around 470 million doses supplied or prepared for distribution, compared to 350 million for AstraZeneca.
Pfizer is the leading company in the European Union, the United States, and Japan for COVID-19 vaccines.
Source - USNews
According to UNICEF data, it has bilateral agreements covering and over 6 billion doses, leaving it by far the biggest provider of COVID-19 vaccinations.
However, AstraZeneca has been seen as a critical provider to less developing countries, given the fact that their shot is less expensive and simpler to distribute.
COVAX initially placed a high priority on AstraZeneca, but supply constraints and export limitations imposed by major producer India eventually decreased its dependence on the Anglo-Swedish shot.
As the project had difficulties obtaining quantities directly from vaccine manufacturers amid a worldwide race for shots, contributions from wealthy countries became more significant, transforming Pfizer into COVAX’s primary provider. The United States contributes mostly Pfizer vaccines to the initiative.
Cold Chain And Syringes
Gavi was compelled to accelerate investments in cold chain capacity in recipient countries that lack sufficient freezers and cold transport equipment to handle the Pfizer vaccine, which needs colder storage temperatures than the AstraZeneca vaccine.
According to an internal assessment given to Gavi’s board of directors in early December and reviewed by Reuters, the organisation worried about inadequate cold chain capacity in certain countries.
The problem is caused by the possibility of a scarcity of the specialised syringes required to give the Pfizer vaccine, as Gavi cautioned in the document.
According to Gavi’s internal report, the Pfizer vaccine is “the hardest to deliver given ultra-cold chain and special syringe requirements“, Gavi says in its internal document.
It is also “the hardest to plan for as these (donated vaccines) often come with earmarking and little notice or in a staggered manner and in small volumes and with short shelf lives“, the document says.
Wealthy nations supplying COVID-19 vaccines with a limited lifespan has been a “major problem" for COVAX, a WHO official warned last week, since many doses have been squandered.
Last week, an EU official said at a press conference that the EU’s gift of Pfizer vaccines to COVAX was hindered by a shortage of syringes. According to a second individual acquainted with the situation, Gavi was forced to delay the delivery of certain Pfizer doses from Europe due to a shortage of needles.
Pfizer refused to comment on syringes, stating that it neither manufactures nor purchases them directly.
As more doses are made accessible to developing and underdeveloped countries, UNICEF and the WHO have long warned of a lack of auto-dissolvable syringes, which are critical for immunisations in third world countries.
Syringes with auto-disable technology automatically lock to minimise re-use, which is frequent in poorer countries and may transmit diseases. To complicate matters further, UNICEF noted that the auto-disable syringes used for the Pfizer vaccine are not conventional syringes.
Source – The Star