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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines won't do much to help with global access issues, and could actually cause setbacks to the world's vaccination effort, Pfizer wrote to a group of Democratic senators in a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Pfizer — and the drug industry writ large — is on the defensive after the Biden administration announced it would support waiving vaccine patent rights. Pfizer alone likely has billions of dollars at stake.

What they're saying: "COVID-19 vaccines are complex biologic products, and their manufacturing requires specialized experience, expertise, and equipment. It is not as simple as sharing a 'recipe,'" writes Jennifer Walton, vice president of U.S. government relations.

  • Only a handful of facilities worldwide can currently manufacture mRNA vaccines and their ingredients at a large scale, she added.
  • Additionally, the waiver could create more competition for a finite supply of the hundreds of materials required to produce the vaccine.

Instead, Pfizer has partnered with other experienced manufacturers to scale up output, and is projecting that it will produce 2.5 billion doses in 2021.

Be smart: Advocates of the waiver will likely dismiss Pfizer's warning as fear-mongering for the sake of protecting its profits.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren did just that at a Senate Finance hearing yesterday: "Drug companies are kicking and screaming about this waiver over the COVID vaccines because they are worried that the federal government may finally have the spine to lower drug prices," she said.

Go deeper

May 12, 2021 - Health

CDC panel endorses Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12-to 15-year-olds, following the FDA's emergency use authorization.

Why it matters: Approval from the CDC panel was the final step needed before inoculations could be offered at any vaccination site for this age group.

Updated Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Emergency room visits of all kinds dropped amid the pandemic.
  2. Vaccines: FDA clears 10 million J&J vaccine doses from contaminated Baltimore plant — Moderna asks FDA to expand COVID-19 vaccine authorization to adolescents.
  3. Cities: Seattle becomes first major city to get 70% fully vaccinated.
  4. Work: Goldman Sachs requires U.S. employees to report vaccination status.
  5. Politics: U.S. to buy 500 million Pfizer doses to share with the world — State Department eases travel advisories for dozens of countries.
  6. World: G7 commits to sending 1 billion COVID vaccine doses to lower-income countries — BioNTech plans to expand mRNA vaccine production into Africa 2021 already has a higher global coronavirus death toll than 2020.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Back to normal without herd immunity.
  8. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
May 13, 2021 - Health

COVID-19 pandemic was "preventable disaster," WHO-commissioned report says

A health worker gives a COVID-19 test to a woman in Oakland, California. Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

The COVID-19 pandemic was a "preventable disaster" that exposed weak links "at every point" of the preparedness process, according to a World Health Organization-commissioned report published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response criticized governments worldwide for being unprepared for the pandemic despite the prevalence of past "global health threats," such as Ebola, Zika, and SARS outbreaks.

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