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WHO calls on Pfizer to make tablets from COVID more accessible WGN Radio 720


GENEVA (AP) – The head of the World Health Organization has called on Pfizer to make COVID-19 more available in poor countries, saying on Tuesday that a deal by a pharmaceutical company that allows generic manufacturers to produce the drug was insufficient.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhan Gebreesus told a news briefing that Pfizer’s treatment was still too expensive. He noted that most Latin American countries did not have access to Pfizer, Paxlovid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death of COVID-19 by up to 90%.

“We remain concerned that low- and middle-income countries are still unable to access antivirals,” Tedros said.

The head of the WHO warned that the uneven distribution of drugs against COVID-19 could ultimately reflect a very disproportionate distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

For example, while countries like the UK have vaccinated more than 70% of their population, less than 16% of people in poor countries have received a single dose.

In November, Pfizer signed an agreement with the UN-supported Patent Pool of Medicines, which allows other drug manufacturers to make common copies of tablets for use in 95 countries. Some major countries affected by the devastating COVID-19 outbreaks, such as Brazil, were not included.

Tedras said the deal doesn’t go far enough, and urged Pfizer to lift its geographical restrictions on where the generic version of Paxlovid can be used, and to make the tablets less expensive for developing countries.

The U.S. paid about $ 500 for each course of Pfizer treatment, which consisted of three pills taken twice a day for five days. Its value in developing countries has not yet been confirmed.

WHO chief scientist Dr Sumia Swaminathan said most of Pfizer’s global supplies were already booked by rich countries, just as they had stockpiled the vast majority of last year’s coronavirus vaccines.

She approved Pfizer’s agreement to allow other drugmakers to produce their own drug, but noted that production would not begin until next year. Swaminathan has also asked Pfizer to waive the requirement for some developing countries to take responsibility for the product in the event of any problems after its introduction.


Follow the coverage of the AP pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic


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