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Pfizer to start shipping coronavirus vaccine to Canada

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By David Ljunggren and Carl O’Donnell

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc will next week start supplying Canada with COVID-19 vaccine made in its U.S. plant, a senior official said on Friday, making it the second country to receive doses from the Kalamazoo, Michigan facility.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Pfizer had started shipping doses made at the plant to Mexico, the first time the company has delivered abroad from U.S. facilities after a Trump-era restriction on its vaccine exports expired at the end of March.

“I can confirm that as of May 3, the Canadian supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will come from its manufacturing site in Kalamazoo,” Canada federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said.

Canada expects to remain on the same schedule, with 2 million doses expected each week in May and 2.4 million doses each week in June, Anand said.

The U.S. government has been under mounting pressure to help countries desperately in need of vaccines, particularly given its own swift vaccination program. Many countries where the virus is still rampant are struggling to acquire vaccine supplies to help tame the pandemic.

Canada has deals with Pfizer for up to 76 million doses. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE have previously been supplying various countries including Canada and Mexico with doses from Pfizer’s main European production plant in Belgium.

Pfizer has shipped more than 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Mexico, making it the country’s largest supplier of shots. Pfizer is also shipping 1 million shots to Brazil this week, its health minister said on Wednesday. Brazil signed an agreement in March to acquire 100 million Pfizer shots and it is in talks to purchase 100 million more.

Pfizer will use extra capacity in its U.S. facilities to deliver coronavirus vaccines abroad while continuing to meet its commitment to supply the United States, a source familiar with the matter said, adding the drugmaker will also make shipments from Belgium.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottowa, Carl O’Donnell in New York, Adriana Barrera and Raul Cortes in Mexico City; additional reporting by Gabriel Stargardter in Rio De Janiero; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool)

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Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 12,656

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Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 12,656 to 3,520,329, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The reported death toll rose by 127 to 84,775, the tally showed.

 

(Reporting by Berlin Newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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Canada ready to discuss COVID-19 vaccine IP waiver, ‘not interfering or blocking’ -Trudeau

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By David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is ready to discuss an intellectual property rights (IP) waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and will not block one even though it stresses the importance of protecting patents, officials said on Friday.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind waiving IP rights for COVID-19 vaccines. Any such waiver would have to be negotiated through the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“We’ve been working with partners at the WTO to find a consensus-based solution and are ready to discuss proposals, in particular for COVID-19 vaccines,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.

Biden’s proposal angered pharmaceutical companies. Firms working on vaccines have reported sharp revenue and profit gains during the crisis.

Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng earlier said that Ottawa firmly believed in the importance of protecting IP.

“I can assure you Canada is not interfering or blocking. Canada is very much working to find a solution,” said Trudeau, who did not give details of the Canadian negotiating stance.

Ng said Ottawa recognized how much the pharmaceutical industry had done to innovate COVID-19 vaccines, adding that many barriers to access were unrelated to IP, such as supply-chain constraints.

Canada is trying to quell a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic that is pushing some healthcare systems to breaking points, particularly in the western provinces of Alberta and Manitoba.

Manitoba officials said they were postponing some non-urgent surgeries to open space for COVID-19 patients and planned to announce tougher public health restrictions as daily cases soared to a near-record high.

The U.S. state of Montana will offer vaccines to around 2,000 Alberta truckers who regularly cross the border, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said.

Truckers will get vaccinated at a post being set up just south of the border, using Montana’s surplus Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The scheme mirrors an agreement that Saskatchewan and Manitoba reached with North Dakota.

 

(Additional reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David Goodman/Mark Heinrich, Grant McCool and Marguerita Choy)

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Moderna says waiving IP rights won’t help increase vaccine supply

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Moderna Inc said on Thursday that waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines will not help boost supply in 2021 or 2022, a day after U.S. President Joe Biden backed a proposed waiver that is aimed at giving poorer companies access.

 

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