Drug companies should share their manufacturing sites to boost the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
“Last week, Sanofi announced it would make its manufacturing infrastructure available to support production of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We call on other companies to follow this example,” the WHO chief told a news briefing.
Ghebreyesus said some 130 countries, comprising 2.5 billion people, have still not started administering Covid-19 vaccines and that the world needs a “massive scale-up in production.”
French pharmaceutical company Sanofi announced last week that it would use its production facilities in Frankfurt to fill and pack doses of the vaccine made by German company BioNTech and US drug maker Pfizer.
Sanofi, which is already developing two of its own Covid-19 vaccines, has pledged to help BioNTech produce 125 million vaccine doses in Europe from this summer.
The EU’s vaccine rollout has been hampered by shortages of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs, and the bloc lags behind countries like the US, UK and Israel, which have all immunized a higher percentage of their populations.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron defended the 27-member bloc’s joint vaccination drive, rather than having countries going it alone to access inoculations.
However, Merkel noted that it appears that vaccine “production capacities are not as large as we had imagined,” while acknowledging “these are complicated processes.”
Amid the shortages, Merkel and Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who is a doctor himself, are among the EU leaders to have welcomed the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine after the news that it is 91 percent effective against Covid-19.
After the promising data for the jab was published in journal The Lancet, Brussels also said it will allow its Moscow-based diplomatic staff to get the vaccine, in a further show of confidence.
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