Tag Archives: Pfizer

COVID-19: BioNTech reveals commitment to ‘supplying’ Taiwan with Pfizer vaccine.

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BioNTech has struck a deal with the Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to bring the vaccine to China, including Taiwan.

Germany’s BioNTech said Thursday it still intends to provide Taiwan with coronavirus vaccine doses after the island’s health chief warned “political pressure” had scuppered a deal with the company.

Taiwanese health minister Chen Shih-Chung said Wednesday that negotiations with the German firm to acquire five million Pfizer/BioNTech shots fell through in December “because someone doesn’t want Taiwan to be too happy”.

His comments raised concerns China might be trying to hinder Taiwan’s inoculation drive.

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Authoritarian Beijing regards democratic and self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and tries to keep the island diplomatically isolated — including keeping it locked out of the World Health Organization.

In a statement on Thursday, BioNTech said discussions to supply Taiwan with doses were still ongoing.

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“BioNTech is committed to help to bring an end to the pandemic for people across the world and we intend to supply Taiwan with our vaccine as part of this global commitment,” it said.

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines are seen on a countertop at the Chiba Rosai Hospital in Ichihara, Chiba perfecture on February 17, 2021, as the country launches its inoculation campaign against the virus. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

The brief statement did not address Chen’s comments or explain why the December deal did not materialise.

BioNTech has struck a deal with the Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to bring the vaccine to China, including Taiwan.

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Beijing has a long history of pressuring both Chinese and international companies when it wants to punish Taiwan.

It the first comments on the issue, China’s foreign ministry on Thursday accused Taiwan of “carrying out political manipulation and hyping up political issues”.

“We wish to provide necessary assistance Taiwanese compatriots in their fight against the epidemic,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, without addressing whether China had played any role in the delayed December deal.

Foson has not responded to requests for comment.

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Taiwan has survived the pandemic largely unscathed — with fewer than 940 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far — by closing its borders early, imposing strict quarantine measures and rolling out the effective tracing.

But it has struggled to locate adequate vaccine supplies and only recently announced a supply of five million doses by American pharmaceutical giant Moderna and 200,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine via COVAX.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: South Korea says North Korea ‘tried to hack’ Pfizer vaccine.

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The North is also accused of a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

North Korean hackers tried to break into the computer systems of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in a search for information on a coronavirus vaccine and treatment technology, South Korea’s spy agency said Tuesday, according to reports.

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The impoverished, nuclear-armed North has been under self-imposed isolation since closing its borders in January last year to try to protect itself from the virus that first emerged in neighbouring China and has gone on to sweep the world, killing more than two million people.

Leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those assertions.

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And the closure has added to the pressure on its tottering economy from international sanctions imposed over its banned weapons systems, increasing the urgency for Pyongyang to find a way to deal with the disease.

Seoul’s National Intelligence Service “briefed us that North Korea tried to obtain technology involving the Covid vaccine and treatment by using cyberwarfare to hack into Pfizer”, MP Ha Tae-keung told reporters after a parliamentary hearing behind closed doors.

This picture taken on February 11, 2021 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 12, 2021 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a performance celebrating the Lunar New Year in North Korea.

North Korea is known to operate an army of thousands of well-trained hackers who have attacked firms, institutions and researchers in the South and elsewhere.

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Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, developed jointly with Germany’s BioNTech, began winning approval from authorities late last year.

It is based on technology that uses the synthetic version of a molecule called “messenger RNA” to hack into human cells and effectively turn them into vaccine-making factories.

Pfizer says it expects to potentially deliver up to 2 billion doses in 2021.

The company’s South Korean office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by AFP.

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Both it and BioNTech said in December that documents relating to their vaccine were “unlawfully accessed” during a cyberattack on a server at the European Medicines Agency, the EU’s medicine regulator.

The comments came after the Amsterdam-based EMA said it had been the victim of a hacking attack, without specifying when it took place or whether its work on Covid-19 was targeted.

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Cyber-heists
The allegations come only a week after a confidential UN report seen by AFP said North Korea had stolen more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks in recent months to support its weapons programmes.

Financial institutions and exchanges were hacked to generate revenue for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development, the document said, with the vast majority of the proceeds coming from two thefts late last year.

Pyongyang’s cyberwarfare abilities first came to global prominence in 2014 when it was accused of hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment as revenge for “The Interview”, a satirical film that mocked leader Kim.

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The attack resulted in the posting of several unreleased movies as well as a vast trove of confidential documents online.

The North is also accused of a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

Pyongyang’s hackers were blamed for the 2017 WannaCry global ransomware cyberattack, which infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back.

Pyongyang has denied the accusations, saying it has “nothing to do with cyber-attacks”.

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Nuclear talks between it and Washington have been stalled since a summit between Kim and then-president Donald Trump in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

North Korea showed off several new missiles at military parades in October and last month when Kim pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Pfizer estimates $15bn 2021 sale of vaccine.

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For all of 2020, Pfizer reported profits of $9.6 billion, down 41.4 percent from 2019, with revenues up two percent to $41.9 billion.

Sales of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could reach up to $15 billion in 2021 and go higher if Pfizer signs additional supply contracts, Pfizer said Tuesday.

The projections came as Pfizer projected full-year 2021 sales of between $59.4 billion and $61.4 billion, meaning that about one-fourth of estimated total sales will come from the Covid-19 vaccine.

The forecast reflects “a continued recovery in macroeconomic and healthcare activity throughout 2021 as more of the population becomes vaccinated against Covid-19,” Pfizer said.

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“These assumptions are guided by the trajectory of current infection rates in many parts of the world and the expected timeline for broad access to effective vaccines.”

(FILES) In this file photo vials of undiluted Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to administer to staff and residents at the Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, a senior living community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30, 2020. – Sales of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could reach up to $15 billion in 2021 and go higher if Pfizer signs additional supply contracts, Pfizer said on February 2, 2021. The projections came as Pfizer reported fourth-quarter and full-year profits and released forecasts for 2021. Pfizer projected full-year 2021 sales of between $44.4 to $46.4 billion, excluding sales for the Covid-19 vaccine. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Pfizer reported fourth-quarter net income of $594 million, compared with a loss of $337 million in the year-ago period.

For all of 2020, Pfizer reported profits of $9.6 billion, down 41.4 percent from 2019, with revenues up two percent to $41.9 billion.

Pfizer’s fourth-quarter revenues included $154 million in sales of the Covid-19 vaccine.

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The vaccine began winning approval from authorities late last year. Pfizer said it expects it could potentially deliver up to 2 billion doses in 2021 based on several factors, including adding more suppliers and contract manufacturers.

Shares of Pfizer rose 0.5 percent to $35.94 in pre-market trading.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: South Africa receives first batch of Pfizer vaccine.

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Another half-a-million doses of the vaccine are expected later this month.

South Africa on Monday took delivery of its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines, a move paving the way to the first phase of inoculation in Africa’s worst-hit country.

Public broadcaster SABC showed President Cyril Ramaphosa at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International airport receiving one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India.

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The jabs will be administered to some 1.2 million health workers, the key target in the first phase of vaccination.

Injections will start to be administered in about two weeks after the vaccines go through quarantine, regulatory and quality-control procedures.

(FILES) An undated handout picture released by the University of Oxford on November 23, 2020 shows a vial of the University’s COVID-19 candidate vaccine, known as AZD1222, co-invented by the University of Oxford and Vaccitech in partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. – Britain on December 30, 2020 became the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by drug firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, with a mass rollout planned from January 4, 2021. (Photo by John Cairns / University of Oxford / AFP) / /

With at least 1.45 million detected infections and more than 44,000 fatalities, South Africa has the highest number of cases and deaths in Africa.

The authorities plan to vaccinate at least 67 percent of the population, or 40 million people, by year’s end.

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The government, which has been accused of being slow to acquire Covid vaccines, announced at the weekend that it had secured an additional 20 million doses — this time of the Pfizer/BioNTech formula.

South Africa’s outbreak has been accelerated by a new variant said to be more contagious than earlier strains of the virus.

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COVID-19: Pfizer pledges over 70,000,000 additional doses to EU.

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These included the completion of modifications at Pfizer’s plant in Puurs, Belgium.

BioNTech and Pfizer said Monday they will ramp up their coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the European Union, pledging to send up to 75 million extra doses to the bloc in the spring.

“Pfizer and BioNTech continue to work toward increased deliveries beginning the week of February 15, ensuring we will supply the full quantity of vaccine doses in the first quarter we contractually committed to and up to an additional 75 million doses to the European Union in the second quarter,” they said in a statement.

The EU has ordered a total of 600 million doses of their Comirnaty vaccine.

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The statement came hours ahead of a national conference called by Chancellor Angela Merkel with vaccine manufacturers amid growing anger over the bloc’s sluggish inoculation campaign.

BioNTech and Pfizer, which will take part in the meeting, said that improvements in their production capabilities would allow them to speed up supplies.

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These included the completion of modifications at Pfizer’s plant in Puurs, Belgium. “Now, we are back to the original schedule of vaccine dose deliveries,” they said.

A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to be adminstered at a vaccination centre set up at Thornton Little Theatre managed by Wyre Council in Thornton-Cleveleys, northwest England, on January 29, 2021 as Britain’s coronavirus vaccination campaign continues. – Britain on Friday claimed its streamlined approach to developing Covid vaccines and support for biotech firms helped it to steal a march on other countries still struggling to implement a roll-out. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

BioNTech’s manufacturing site in the German city of Marburg has meanwhile received a licence to start production this month, as the companies have expanded their network of European supply partners to 13.

“We’re further strengthening this network, and are now in discussions with additional qualified partners on potential new agreements,” they said.

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Their announcement in mid-January that they would delay shipments of the jabs due to the necessary modifications at the Puurs factory sparked ire across the bloc.

Germany at the time urged the European Commission — which undertook joint procurement for the bloc — to “seek clarity and certainty” for upcoming shipments.

And six northern EU nations warned in a letter to the Commission that the “unacceptable” situation “decreases the credibility of the vaccination process”.

The news was followed last week by an announcement from British-Swedish company AstraZeneca that it could deliver only a quarter of the doses originally promised to the bloc this winter because of problems at one of its European factories.

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In the face of a political firestorm, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday that AstraZeneca had now agreed to increase its coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the EU by 30 percent.

An EU source said the first deliveries would start in the second week of February.

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#Newsworthy