Pfizer and BioNTech – The delivery of COVID jabs will commence in May, allowing Olympic delegations time for two shots before 23 July to be completely immunized.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Thursday that Pfizer and BioNTech would donate doses of COVID vaccine to inoculating athletes and officials preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
Dose delivery will begin this month to allow Olympic delegations time to fully vaccinate themselves with a second shot before arriving in Tokyo for the matches on July 23.
It is the second major IOC vaccination contract. In March, the IOC and the Olympic officials in China announced an agreement to purchase and distribute Chinese vaccines before the Tokyo Games and the Beijing Winter Games.
The new Pfizer service offers the IOC a larger global reach before Tokyo, with most countries only authorizing the use of Chinese vaccines in an emergency.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the organization is “proud to be instrumental” in encouraging Olympians and delegations to vaccinate.
“After an awe-inspiring year of alienation and disaster, the return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games marks a monumental period of world unity and stability.”
IOC President Thomas Bach also accepted the agreement and saw the Tokyo Games postponed since last year due to the pandemic.
“In the coming Olympic and Paralympic Games, we invite the athletes and the participating delegations to take the example and embrace this vaccination, as far as possible,” Bach said in a statement.
More than 11,000 athletes are expected at the games.
The donation from Pfizer followed discussions between Pfizer’s Bourla and Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Prime Minister.
“The Japanese government met with the IOC following this discussion and the donations initiative has now been implemented,” said Pfizer.
The agreement with Pfizer is seen as critical as Tokyo and many Japanese regions are warned again about the rise in COVID-19 cases, with residual questions about the wisdom of the games.
There have been more than 622,000 cases of coronavirus and almost 10,500 deaths in Japan.
The IOC stated that any vaccination programme should be conducted “in conformity with the vaccination guidelines of each country and in conformity with local regulations.”
The IOC-China vaccine deal provides two doses for each dosage obtained by an Olympic athlete in that region, which are made available to the general public.
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