Pfizer seeks full US OK of COVID-19 shot

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Pfizer hopes to produce three billion COVID vaccine doses this year, CEO Albert Bourla says.
Camera IconPfizer hopes to produce three billion COVID vaccine doses this year, CEO Albert Bourla says. Credit: AP

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SA have filed for full US government approval for their COVID-19 vaccine and are targeting production of four billion doses of the shot next year, mostly for low- and middle-income countries.

Full approval for the vaccine, which has been authorised on an emergency basis, could help ease hesitancy to get the shot in the United States and other wealthy countries.

Pfizer also pointed to new, higher manufacturing forecasts as evidence of its ability and intention to serve poorer nations that have received very little of its vaccine so far.

In a letter sent to Pfizer employees and posted publicly, Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said the company already had deals or was in talks with countries to supply 2.7 billion doses this year, of which 40 per cent were expected to go to middle- and low-income countries.

The supply balance should tip into the less wealthy countries' favour over the second half of this year, and Pfizer hopes to produce three billion doses in 2021.

Bourla sent the letter after the Biden administration backed waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines. The chief executive said the waiver would disrupt the flow of raw materials for the vaccine.

"Entities with little or no experience in manufacturing vaccines are likely to chase the very raw materials we require to scale our production, putting the safety and security of all at risk," Bourla wrote.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to be authorised for emergency use in the United States in December.

The lack of full approval has been a concern in the anti-vaccine community, a matter of growing importance as the United States must begin persuading people to get inoculated, having satisfied much of the early demand.

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