•   
  •   

Australia Chris Bowen says other countries struck deals for a billion doses of the Pfizer vaccine before Australia signed its agreement. Is he correct?

01:55  11 march  2021
01:55  11 march  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

How the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is different from others

  How the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is different from others There is a new vaccine approved in the United States and it has one major difference which is hoped to speed up the immunisation of the country.The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) cleared the vaccine produced by medical giant Johnson & Johnson.

Were 1 billion doses of Pfizer 's vaccine already accounted for in deals with other countries before the Government made its deal in November? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates. But a tally compiled from government and corporate media releases suggests around 350 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine were accounted for in pre-purchase agreements before Australia announced its deal on November 5. Mr Bowen 's suggested tally of 1 billion doses would only be reached if so-called "optional" doses were included, as well as a deal with the European Union for 200 million

But Pfizer insisted that those doses be counted toward its existing contract. It could sell vials the United States had been expecting to other countries , or charge the United States for them in future deals . That could threaten the wave of good publicity that the company has enjoyed since developing a highly effective vaccine at record Ms. Rose, the Pfizer spokeswoman, said that “in a situation of limited vaccine supply amidst a public health crisis, our intent with this label change is to provide clarity to health care providers, minimize vaccine wastage, and enable the most efficient use of the vaccine .”

Chris Bowen wearing a suit and tie: Former opposition spokesman for health Chris Bowen says a billion doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine were accounted for around the world before the Government made a deal with the company in November. (ABC News: Matt Roberts) © Provided by ABC Health Former opposition spokesman for health Chris Bowen says a billion doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine were accounted for around the world before the Government made a deal with the company in November. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

The claim

The first doses of Australia's COVID-19 vaccination program have at last been administered, but concerns have been expressed that the rollout will be slowed by supply constraints.

In  Australia's November deal with Pfizer to supply 10 million doses of its vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed the agreement, along with another deal signed with Novavax for 50 million doses, had put Australia at "the front of the queue".

The key ingredient that could hold back vaccine manufacturing

  The key ingredient that could hold back vaccine manufacturing You may not have heard of them, but lipid nanoparticles are key to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.Here’s part of the answer: We’re still racing to make a special type of lipid, a relatively unknown but critical component of the vaccines being manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. These vaccines use messenger RNA, the genetic component commonly known as mRNA that instructs cells to make proteins, which in turn teach the human body how to fight the virus that causes Covid-10.

Slaoui said he believes most doses will be injected within three to four days, but after that, "I think it will take a week." There are a number of vaccines in development by other companies as well. Azar told CNN the US has the ability to purchase up to 3 billion doses of vaccines from six manufacturers The vaccines will then be flown across the country , and the Federal Aviation Administration has said its air traffic controllers will prioritize flights carrying the vaccines . FedEx and UPS will be involved in transporting the vaccines on the ground, delivering them to facilities where they will be administered

So far, there are only enough doses available to start vaccinating people in nursing homes and frontline health care workers, whom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed to prioritize.The U.S. bought 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine over the summer. South Korea has arranged to buy coronavirus vaccines for 23 million more people, its prime minister said on Tuesday, a day after authorities decided to scale back initial vaccination plans, citing delays and efficacy concerns. The deals include vaccines from Novavax Inc for 20 million people and Pfizer products for 3 million, bringing the total

But, in January, the Opposition accused the Government of being slow to make deals, and that this would affect supply of the drug.

"[B]y the time the Morrison Government did a deal with Pfizer, a billion doses had already been accounted for around the world. Australia wasn't at the front of the queue — we're at the back," then opposition spokesman for health Chris Bowen .

Were 1 billion doses of Pfizer's vaccine already accounted for in deals with other countries before the Government made its deal in November? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict

Mr Bowen's claim is drawing a long bow.

A definitive list of the deals made between Pfizer and various countries for its vaccine is not publicly available.

But a tally compiled from government and corporate media releases suggests around 350 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine were accounted for in pre-purchase agreements before Australia announced its deal on November 5.

Black, Latino Californians Given 20% Of State's COVID Vaccines, But Make Up 42% of Population

  Black, Latino Californians Given 20% Of State's COVID Vaccines, But Make Up 42% of Population California Gov. Gavin Newsom has called equity his "North Star," but the vaccine rollout is leaving the state's largest, most vulnerable communities behind.African Americans have received 3 percent of vaccine doses while they make up 6 percent of the state, according to the Associated Press. Latinos, who make up 39 percent of the state, have received 17 percent of doses. The vaccination gap is much narrower for white Californians, who make up 36 percent of the state's population. State health data shows that 32 percent of white people in the state have already received shots.

“Dear patients, after an unprecedented mRNA vaccine , you will no longer be able to treat the symptoms of the vaccine in a complementary way. “You will have to live with the consequences because you will no longer be able to be cured simply by removing toxins from the human body, just like a person with a genetic defect like Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, stopping genetic heart disease, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, Rett time to ‘strengthen confidence’ in the vaccine Around 3million doses of the approved Pfizer vaccine were shipped around the US on Sunday.

But Australia has not signed any deals to buy them. He said the federal government should not hurry to buy vaccines from foreign countries after Labor raised fears that On Wednesday Labor health spokesman Chris Bowen slammed the government for not signing any deals . ' Countries with money including us, the US and European nations will be first in line for a vaccine but we need

Mr Bowen's suggested tally of 1 billion doses would only be reached if so-called "optional" doses were included, as well as a deal with the European Union for 200 million pre-purchased doses and 100 million optional doses.

But the inclusion of these numbers comes with significant caveats, and experts contacted by Fact Check expressed mixed views about whether or not they should be included.

They said the EU deal should only be included in the overall tally if it had been finalised on September 9, when the bloc and Pfizer "concluded exploratory talks", rather than on November 11, when the contract was finally approved.

A larger issue is the inclusion of optional doses, which some experts said were different to pre-purchased doses and could not be relied upon as being "accounted for".

These optional doses make up over half of the tally to November 5, even when the EU deal is included.

Pfizer CEO cancels Israel trip because he's not fully vaccinated

  Pfizer CEO cancels Israel trip because he's not fully vaccinated Bourla and some of his staff have received their first doses but are yet to receive their second. US pharma giant announced the trip's postponement on Thursday.Bourla, 59, and some of his staff have received their first doses but are yet to receive their second, while others in his team have got both doses but have not completed the mandatory seven-day wait afterwards to develop an immune response.

The Pfizer -BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize a potentially more contagious variant of the virus that was first discovered in Brazil, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.Why it matters: The results come as experts warn that several new variants — which are already present in the U.S. — could create a new surge in coronavirus cases and prolong the pandemic.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.Details: People who were fully vaccinated were given an engineered version of the virus that had a similar mutation to

Two pharmaceutical companies announced a nearly billion contract for 600 million doses of a vaccine , with the first 100 million promised before the end of the year. The first patient enrolled in Pfizer ’s Covid-19 vaccine trial receiving an injection at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore So far, the United States has put money into more than a half dozen efforts, hoping to build manufacturing ability for an eventual breakthrough. Europe has a parallel effort underway. Germany recently took a 23 percent stake in a German firm, CureVac, that President Trump once tried to lure to

Thus, Mr Bowen's claim lacked the necessary context to allow audiences to understand the true status of more than half the doses in his count of 1 billion.

Background on Pfizer's vaccine

A multitude of vaccines seeking to curb the prevalence of COVID-19 disease in humans are at various stages of development, but few have received the kind of attention as that of Pfizer's candidate.

As the first wave of the pandemic swept the world, the pharmaceutical giant  it was teaming up with German biotech firm BioNTech to develop and manufacture a vaccine candidate "based on BioNTech's proprietary mRNA vaccine platforms, with the objective of ensuring rapid worldwide access to the vaccine, if approved".

In November, Pfizer  that results from its phase 3 trial of the drug showed a 95 per cent success rate in preventing COVID-19 disease in people seven days after they were given two doses of the drug.

This was followed by the issuing of an emergency use authorisation in December in the , a world first for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Further authorisations followed quickly in a slew of other countries.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses have better efficacy when given 12 weeks apart, study finds

  AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses have better efficacy when given 12 weeks apart, study finds Waiting longer than six weeks between the first and second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine results in a higher efficacy rate, according to experts.The study, which involved more than 17,000 participants and was published recently in The Lancet, found the vaccine — which most people in Australia will receive — had an 81 per cent efficacy rate when a second dose was given three months after the first.

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved Pfizer's vaccine for use on January 25, 2021, meaning it can now be legally supplied in Australia "to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, in individuals 16 years of age and older".

Australia's deal with Pfizer

On November 5, 2020, the Government  it had reached a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech for the supply of 10 million doses of its vaccine to Australia, subject to regulatory approval.

As previously mentioned, the vaccine requires two doses, spread out over a number of weeks, to be effective, meaning the deal would provide enough vaccine to inoculate 5 million Australians.

At the time of the deal, no mention was made of any option being included in the contract to purchase further doses.

Mr Bowen made his claim on January 23.

The Government has  secured a further 10 million doses of the vaccine, bringing the total to 20 million.

Context of the claim

Mr Bowen is not the only Labor figure to have made this claim.

During a  two days after Mr Bowen's, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese criticised the speed of the Government's Pfizer vaccine rollout, attributing it to the timing of the deal.

"If the Morrison Government had secured the Pfizer deal before other countries had secured 1 billion doses of their own, maybe the Government would have more than one in five Australians being looked after by this vaccine," he said.

30 Million AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine Doses Sitting in Ohio as Company Awaits FDA Approval

  30 Million AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine Doses Sitting in Ohio as Company Awaits FDA Approval The U.S. continues to hold onto millions of doses of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine to ensure "maximal flexibility" in vaccinating the American population. But some countries are begging for the doses to be moved abroad as the company awaits FDA approval.According to a report from The New York Times, the batch in Ohio is in its final phase of the process during which the vaccine is placed into vials, and is part of the tens of millions of AstraZeneca doses waiting for a green light from federal health officials.

And in a  into the Government's response to COVID-19 several days later, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Kristina Keneally, asked Pfizer's director of market access, Louise Graham:

"Let me then ask you the question this way: my understanding is that by the point the deal was announced on 5 November, Pfizer had already done deals for around one billion doses with 34 countries; is that correct?"

Ms Graham stopped short of confirming Senator Keneally's figure, stating:

"By that point, yes, there were a range of deals and contracts already in place. Australia came online in November."

Fact Check contacted Mr Bowen's office to ask for the source of his claim.

A spokeswoman confirmed that his reference to 1 billion doses pertained to the Pfizer vaccine alone, and provided a chronology of vaccine deals made between countries and various vaccine manufacturers, sourced from an  on pharmaceutical industry website Bio Pharma Dispatch.

Entries relating to the Pfizer vaccine on or before November 5 were:

DateEntry
July 20, 2020UK secures 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech (financial terms undisclosed)
July 22, 2020US commits US$1.95 billion to Pfizer-BioNTech for 600 million doses
July 31, 2020Japan deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for 120 million doses
August 31, 2020Canada  … 20 million Pfizer [doses]
September 9, 2020Pfizer and BioNTech close to finalising 200 million dose deal with the European Union
September 15, 2020Germany invests US$445 million in the development of Pfizer-BioNTech
September 18, 2020BioNTech acquires manufacturing facility from Novartis to produce 750 million doses per year
October 10, 2020New Zealand secures 1.5 million doses of Pfizer
October 18, 2020Mexico secures 90 million doses of three vaccines, [including] Pfizer
November 5, 2020Australia secures 10 million doses of Pfizer and 40 million doses of Novavax

While the doses mentioned in these entries do indeed total almost 1 billion, the status of the deals listed remains unclear without the confirmation of primary sources.

‘A can of worms’: Experts weigh in on the vaccine passport debate

  ‘A can of worms’: Experts weigh in on the vaccine passport debate There is no consensus on how coronavirus vaccine passports should be used but many countries are exploring the idea.Supporters of the vaguely-defined certificates argue they have a critical role to play in ending restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of the pandemic, at least in countries with widescale access to vaccines.

Deal or no deal?

Fact Check contacted Pfizer seeking a list of vaccine deals by country, but a spokeswoman declined to provide details, citing confidentiality.

Further, there appears to be no publicly available, definitive source for vaccine deals made between countries and pharmaceutical companies, including the number of doses secured and the date of such agreements.

Nonetheless, there are some groups which have sought to track and quantify these measures using a variety of sources.

UNICEF's  relies principally on media reports for its database, which is updated regularly.

Elsewhere, a  published in the British Medical Journal attempted to collate and quantify all advance purchase agreements made by governments up to November 15, 2020, using the "World Health Organisation's draft landscape of covid-19 candidate vaccines, along with company disclosures to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, company and foundation press releases, government press releases, and media reports".

That study had a cut-off date of November 15. Its  listed deals made by 11 countries plus the European Union for a total of 512.4 million doses, excluding Australia's November 5 deal for 10 million doses.

Meanwhile, researchers at Duke University's Global Health Innovation Center, which runs  supplied Fact Check with its database of vaccine deals, which is based on publicly available information.

These sources would obviously not include deals that had been kept secret.

However, Adam Kamradt-Scott, a global health security expert at Sydney University, told Fact Check that while some governments considered agreements such as these to be an issue of national security, there was a powerful incentive to publicise them during a global pandemic.

"In the current pandemic there is an obvious incentive for governments to announce they've made an agreement, which is why we have lists being composed by organisations … as it reinforces the message that governments are concerned for the wellbeing of their citizens," he told Fact Check in an email.

Why deaths reported following COVID-19 vaccinations are no immediate cause for alarm

  Why deaths reported following COVID-19 vaccinations are no immediate cause for alarm As more and more people continue to be vaccinated around the world, more misinformation continues to spread about vaccine safety.You can read the latest edition below, and to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

"But it is rare for much more information to come to light about the nature of these deals because governments get concerned that after signing the agreement, another country might come in over the top and offer more money to get ahead of the queue."

Keeping options open

Another complicating factor in calculating and aggregating various vaccine deals is the existence of clauses in contracts allowing countries to purchase further doses in the future.

When the United States signed its initial deal with Pfizer, for example, it was for the purchase of 100 million doses, according to a press release. But the  included an option to purchase up to 500 million additional doses.

This provides context for the 600 million doses listed in the Bio Pharma Dispatch article referred to by Mr Bowen's spokeswoman.

The US  in December, purchasing an additional 100 million doses.

The Australian Government appears to have exercised a similar option when it purchased an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in January, although the option to do so was not public knowledge when the deal was first announced in November.

"As part of that vaccine strategy, we have followed the advice on purchasing from the scientific and technical advisory group, or SCITAG, led by Professor Brendan Murphy … they advised from the outset that we should build an option, subject to the determination by the TGA, into our contract to purchase additional doses if the TGA were to approve the use of Pfizer," Health Minister Greg Hunt  at a news conference.

"We did that, we did that quietly behind the scenes. Once the TGA approved the Pfizer vaccine, we triggered that option."

However, the question of whether to include these optional doses in a stocktake of vaccine deals is a vexed one, and experts contacted by Fact Check offered mixed opinions on the subject.

Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott said it was "reasonable" to include them as "they are part of the original agreement and there are clauses included describing under what circumstances those supplementary purchase options will be enacted".

"The agreement will likely already include stipulations around price per unit as well as clauses stipulating that these supplementary purchases would be fulfilled ahead of other orders," he said.

"In short, advance-purchase agreements reward early movers, or those governments that act quickly to sign up to these deals."

But Andrea Taylor, assistant director of programs at the Duke Global Health Institute, told Fact Check that "the options are not the same status as confirmed doses".

"With optioned doses, you still have to negotiate the delivery schedule if and when you exercise the options. So, you can't just decide you want those doses and click your fingers and have them arrive next week."

She noted that the US ran into this problem with its option to purchase an additional 500 million doses which accompanied its original deal for 100 million doses in July.

"But then, in late 2020, the US government decided that they wanted more doses by Q2 2021 and Pfizer said it was too late to exercise the options for that delivery timeline, as they had already committed their manufacturing slots for Q2," Ms Taylor wrote in an email.

The US recently negotiated the purchase of a further 100 million doses from Pfizer, which  won't be delivered until the end of July.

One of the authors of the BMJ study, Anthony So, a professor and founding director of the Innovation+Design Enabling Access (IDEA) initiative based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the choice about whether to include optional doses in the statistics depended on what exactly was being measured.

Professor So told Fact Check that he declined to include such options in his paper, because "there was limited transparency of the option to purchase in available public records" and "it was not possible to ascertain whether those options to scale up could be exercised by the end of 2021, the period over which we sought to confirm pre-market purchase commitments".

He also noted that, in some cases, the sum of pre-purchased and option-to-purchase vaccine doses signed in deals around the world exceeded the number of doses that manufacturers said they could deliver by the end of 2021.

"For example, as of November 15, 2020, AstraZeneca/Oxford's manufacturing was at 1.5 billion courses (2 doses per course) through 2021, with just around this number of doses reserved. If known option-to-purchase courses were included, purchase commitments for AstraZeneca/Oxford's vaccine candidate would be significantly over their manufacturing capacity (by more than 200 million courses)."

Given all of the above caveats, Fact Check decided to separate tallies into secured doses and future optional doses.

So how many doses were accounted for before Australia signed its deal?

Using the databases mentioned earlier as a starting point, Fact Check sought to calculate the number of Pfizer doses accounted for in purchase agreements around the world before Australia announced its deal with the company on November 5.

Fact Check has only included deals which were announced or confirmed through official government sources, or through Pfizer itself.

, , , , , , , , , the  and the  all made deals with Pfizer before November 5.

In the case of the UK, the country made an initial deal with Pfizer in July for 30 million doses. A from Pfizer later confirmed that this had been increased to 40 million doses in early October, though it did not provide an exact date.

Fact Check confirmed that  also clinched a deal, but the number of doses was not publicly announced, so it has not been included in the calculations.

A deal was also reportedly made by Germany, separate to negotiations between the European Union and Pfizer, for 30 million doses. While the existence of the deal was confirmed by a spokesman for Germany's Health Ministry in January, details were sparse with Reuters  it was secretly signed in September.

However, as this date is not supported by official sources, Fact Check has not included Germany's deal in the tally.

[no options no EU graph]

Excluding options, the final tally of doses included in global agreements struck before Australia's deal was signed was 350.8 million.

[yes options no EU graph]

This would rise to 850.8 million doses if the option for the US to purchase an additional 500 million doses is included.

The EU deal

For completeness, Fact Check also investigated the European Union's deal with Pfizer for 200 million doses, which was signed on November 11 and contained an option to purchase a further 100 million doses.

Although the  issued on that day announced that the multi-nation bloc had approved a contract with Pfizer, it appears the doses listed in the deal may have been "accounted for" by the EU long before this date.

Another announcement, , which accords with the article cited by Mr Bowen's spokeswoman, suggested the bloc had "concluded exploratory talks with BioNTech-Pfizer to purchase a potential vaccine against COVID-19".

Professor So told Fact Check: "It certainly appears that the two parties reached this pre-market purchase commitment in September and then formalised it on November 11th."

Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott agreed. "To my mind, it is hard to imagine any circumstance in which a pharmaceutical manufacturer would not factor in potential sales to one of the world's largest markets (the European Union) when finalising negotiations with other potential buyers."

For this reason, Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott said it seemed likely that Pfizer would have factored in its deal with the EU prior to finalising its agreement with Australia.

"Given the size of the EU market, it would make prudent business sense," he said. "It is entirely conceivable that Pfizer would prioritise the EU over Australia, even if the ink had not dried on the EU agreement."

But Ms Taylor said the EU doses were not included as "confirmed" in her database until the final deal was signed.

"The ‘exploratory talks' in September may have resulted in a non-binding or even a binding agreement, but we wouldn't have counted it as confirmed until it was a definitive agreement."

If the EU deal is included in calculations, excluding options, the tally of doses accounted for globally ahead of Australia's deal rises to 550.8 million doses.

[no options yes EU graph]

Including options, the total would be around 1.2 billion.

[yes options yes EU graph]

Is Australia at the back of the queue?

While a number of mostly wealthy countries made a deal with Pfizer before Australia, it's clear that many more countries, most of which are less wealthy, did not.

Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott said Australia was "far from [being at] the back of the queue", noting that those that were at the back of the queue were "countries that can't afford to make these deals, and are reliant on either donations of vaccines or the new COVAX initiative developed by the World Health Organisation, GAVI and CEPI".

Ms Taylor said it was more likely that the timing of Australia's order would affect the timing of delivery of the vaccine doses, rather than the size of the order itself.

"It is certainly possible that the purchase coming after the relatively large orders from the US, Japan, UK … may have put Australia at a disadvantage in terms of delivery schedule," she said, noting that larger orders had still been placed by other countries after Australia's deal was signed.

Professor So told Fact Check that because of the limited transparency of vaccine agreements around the world, it was difficult to know whether or not Australia would have secured more doses or received priority in the delivery of those doses, had a deal been made earlier.

"… publicly available information on the queuing of vaccine doses coming off the production line for different countries is hard to know (and may, in fact, be changing dynamically), until vaccine doses near the time of delivery and administration," he said.

Principal researcher: , online editor

Sources

  • Andrea Taylor, Private data taken from Duke University's Launch and Scale Speedometer

Video: UK COVID-19 variant has significantly higher death rate, study finds (Reuters)

Why deaths reported following COVID-19 vaccinations are no immediate cause for alarm .
As more and more people continue to be vaccinated around the world, more misinformation continues to spread about vaccine safety.You can read the latest edition below, and to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

usr: 2
This is interesting!