White House chief Covid science officer calls on Moderna to 'step up' global vaccine efforts
(CNN) The White House's top scientist focused on Covid-19 sought to ratchet up pressure on Moderna, saying the pharmaceutical giant needs to "step up" to provide more of its Covid-19 vaccine to the world in the urgent race to get the pandemic under control.
While public health experts have been calling on Moderna to boost its production and distribution of its vaccine to low and middle-income countries, or to share their proprietary technology, for some time, the remarks from Dr. David Kessler -- chief science officer of the White House Covid-19 response team -- mark an escalation in the Biden administration's public comments on the matter.
"We expect that Moderna will step up as a company.
We expect -- we have asked them, they need to step up as a company and join other companies, such as Pfizer, and provide COVAX (Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, the global vaccine sharing program) with doses for the AMC92 (the COVAX Advance Market Commitment for 92 low- and middle-income countries) at not-for-profit prices at a quantity -- substantial doses that will help close that gap," Kessler said Wednesday in a panel with the Law and Political Economy Project on vaccinating the world.
He continued, "There is very substantial additional capacity at Moderna that has been invested in.
Now the question is to get that commitment done at a not-for-profit price and in substantial quantities, as a failure to do that would be unconscionable, in my view."
Kessler's comments come after the Biden administration has pledged to significantly increase the amount of Covid-19 vaccines it is sending to foreign countries next year, with President Joe Biden announcing last month that the US would purchase an additional 500 million Pfizer shots for low- and lower-middle income countries around the world on top of 500 million doses the US had already committed to sharing.
A majority of the doses the administration has shipped abroad so far are Pfizer, though Biden announced in June that 20 million doses of a combination of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines would be sent overseas.