The military recently signed a $ 3.5 billion contract with Pfizer Inc. for the pharmaceutical company to produce 500 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine.
But these shots are not intended for the shoulders of the soldiers.
Instead, the contract award says they are for an “international donation” and that the supply is expected to be completed by Dec.31, 2022, according to the Pentagon.
The plan is for these half a billion doses to be distributed to more than 100 countries, most of them in Africa.
“Our partnership with the US government will get hundreds of millions of doses of our vaccine to the world’s poorest countries as quickly as possible,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer. June announcement of the plan. “COVID-19 has affected everyone, everywhere, and to win the battle against this pandemic, we must ensure accelerated access to vaccines for all. “
The military is not the only entity to take advantage of “vaccine diplomacy” efforts to help maintain, strengthen or forge links around the world. Russia and China have both pushed their own COVID-19 vaccines to other countries as they become available.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was one of the first three vaccines distributed for mass use in the United States to fight the global pandemic.
A study by researchers in Singapore, released last week, showed the vaccine to be “very effective” in protecting recipients from serious illness if they are infected even with the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the virus after taking the vaccine .
The study has not yet been peer reviewed.
A study by Public Health England published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July found that Pfizer’s vaccine was 88% effective in preventing serious illnesses associated with Delta variant infection.
the United States Food and Drug Administration announced this week that it would speed up its review of Pfizer’s vaccine for full approval. The vaccine, along with its cohorts, are under emergency use authorization, which means they are allowed to be used, although they have not gone through a full standard vaccine review. normally performed by the FDA.
As late as April, reports showed that even some countries in the European Union were looking to China and Russia for vaccines when they could not get what they needed from the United States. .
China has said it is supplying its Sinovac vaccine to more than 80 countries.
Yet both even adversaries had their stumbles in the vaccine’s generosity. The vaccine made in China has been shown to prevent only symptomatic illnesses in 51% of vaccinees, according to Time.com. In comparison, the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines showed levels close to or greater than 90%.
Russia has put its Sputnik V vaccine in nearly 70 countries, but neither the World Health Organization nor the European Medicines Agency has cleared it for emergency use, due to lack of access to test data, according to Time.com.
But even as the military spends billions to produce and distribute the vaccine as part of outreach efforts, its own scientists are working on a way to obsolete bespoke vaccines like Pfizer’s.
Army Times reported in June that scientists in the Army’s infectious diseases branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Md., Had tested a “catch-all” vaccine that could protect against current and future strains of coronavirus.
By this time, researchers had already successfully tested the vaccine on mice, monkeys, horses, hamsters and sharks.
The first human tests have started and immunity datasets are expected in the coming months.
“We know it is safe and tolerable, but we do not yet know the immunity it confers,” Dr Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch, said at a defense summit. June 21st.