Leaders from 16 major life-science companies pledged on Wednesday to collectively work to get their Covid-19 diagnostic, treatment and vaccine products to the developing world in a variety of ways, including donations, not-for-profit price models and tiered pricing.
There is mounting concern that poor countries may be shut out of lifesaving products in the marketplace, especially as the United States and other countries strike deals to buy billions of dollars’ worth of potential vaccines before they have received regulatory approval.
A number of groups — among them the public-private partnership GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — have been trying to work out their own deals to get vaccines, treatments and tests to low- and middle-income countries. Bill and Melinda Gates joined in signing the pledge.
The companies signing the pledge were AstraZeneca, Bayer, bioMérieux, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai, Eli Lilly, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi.
They said they would support “global mechanisms,” but made no specific commitments in their statement.
Separately, Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday that it would make 500 million doses of its vaccine available to low- and middle-income countries. Previously, AstraZeneca agreed to supply 300 million doses of a vaccine to low- and middle-income countries. To increase access to its drug, Remdesivir, Gilead has licensed the drug to pharmaceutical companies without collecting royalties.
The pledge document called on countries, multilateral institutions, other corporations, and nongovernmental organizations to “provide sufficient, dedicated, sustainable, and timely funding for the procurement and delivery of the tools necessary to end the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Making the global deals work would require roughly $38 billion, much of it from wealthier countries. While Britain and the European Union have made financial commitments, the United States has not.