Rich countries have ‘cleared the shelves’ with First Dibs on Vaccines

And while Pfizer’s vaccines are already streaming to Great Britain, Canada and the United States, it’s unclear when they will arrive in other countries. Mexico could get its first vaccines anytime in the next 12 months, according to an announcement.

Clemens Auer, a chief negotiator for the European Union, said in an email that his contract with Pfizer for 200 million doses came with a “fixed delivery schedule,” but that he kept the details to the public. “Details don’t really matter,” he said, given the number of promising vaccines the EU had received.

In Canada, the government has raised questions about its contract with Moderna. The country got an agreement for 20 million doses in August, with an option for an additional 36 million. The United States announced a deal for up to 500 million doses shortly after, and Britain and the European Union announced their own deals last month.

So when Moderna recently said the first 20 million would go to the United States, Canadian politicians were accused of their country losing its place. It was not widely known that Moderna had promised the Americans the first doses as a condition of receiving US funding.

Erin O’Toole, the Conservative leader of the Canadian Parliament, filed a motion requiring the government to provide fulfillment dates for its orders, saying that citizens “deserve to know when to expect each vaccine type.”

Even if other promising candidates, such as Johnson & Johnson’s, receive approval soon and put pressure on Pfizer and Moderna, there is no guarantee the companies will be able to meet their commitments next year.

“People think, just because we’ve shown in phase 3 clinical trials that we have safe and effective vaccines, that the taps are about to be fully turned on,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, one of the global nonprofits that co-lead the Covax program with WHO “The challenges in scaling production are significant, and they are fraught.”


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