As public health experts ask Moderna to increase production and distribution of its vaccine in low- and middle-income countries, or to share their proprietary technology, for some time now, the remarks of Dr David Kessler, director White House Covid-19 response team scientist – marks an escalation in the Biden administration’s public comments on the matter.
He continued, “There is a very significant additional capacity at Moderna that has been invested. Now the question is to make this commitment at a not-for-profit price and in substantial quantities, because not to do so would be unreasonable, in my opinion. opinion.”
Kessler’s comments come after the Biden administration pledged to dramatically increase the amount of Covid-19 vaccine it will send to foreign countries next year, with President Joe Biden announcing last month that the United States would buy an additional 500 million Pfizer vaccines for lower-middle-income countries around the world in addition to the 500 million doses the United States had already pledged to share. The majority of the doses the administration has shipped overseas so far are Pfizer, although Biden announced in June that 20 million doses of a combination of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines would be sent to the country. ‘foreigner.
But Dr Tom Frieden, former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is one of those top public health experts repeatedly calling on Pfizer and Moderna to transfer their technology to other manufacturers to increase production and distribution around the world.
He continued, “This has led to the shocking and unacceptable situation we find ourselves in now. Over 6 billion doses have been administered worldwide, less than 4% to people in low-income countries. Not only is this a moral failure, it is also epidemiologically perilous, fewer people vaccinated worldwide mean that new, higher risk variants will emerge that are more contagious or elude our immunity, either through vaccines or through infection or both. ”
Kessler said on Wednesday that the Biden administration had met with several leaders at Moderna “in recent days” to pressure them on the issue.
“We can’t wait. We don’t have months to wait. I think we asked the question, we met, I’m saying it here, we met members of the Moderna board, not only the CEO, we have met the president of Moderna, the board members in the last few days. They understand what we expect, “he said.
The US government, he said, “hasn’t made a decision yet on, you know, what it will do, based on the response, but we’re waiting for the response… but I can assure you that there is full resolve on everyone in the administration to bring doses to low and middle income countries as soon as possible. ”
He praised Pfizer for its “record” and said he had “no doubt” the company would meet its own commitments to share vaccines globally at cost.
But he was much less confident in Moderna’s ability to do so, adding, “Moderna can speak for himself. We’ve had some very, very intense discussions with Moderna.”
Pressed by the panel moderator on why the administration isn’t exerting more leverage on Moderna, Kessler said, “I think these companies understand our authorities and understand that we wouldn’t be afraid to use them. But the best recourse right now is for them to step in now and make sure they provide COVAX at nonprofit prices as a substantial base to close that gap. ”
Kessler pointed to a “specific request” from the US government to do so, and warned, “They understand our authorities.”
CNN’s John Bonifield contributed to this report.
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