Increasing access

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Vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases haven't historically been a major focus for pharmaceutical companies, but Pfizer produced the first approved COVID-19 vaccine and one of the most widely used antiviral treatments, Paxlovid, for the disease as well. Following those successes, in 2023, the New York–based pharmaceutical giant received approval for its vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which affects 64 million people worldwide, mostly infants and older adults. The full impact of the RSV vaccine isn’t clear yet, but Japanese public-health experts estimated that in their country alone, the shot could prevent 20% of respiratory illnesses and 27% of deaths linked to the virus. Now CEO Albert Bourla is turning to a program he began just before COVID-19 hit in 2019: Accord for a Healthier World, which aims to increase the number of people around the world who can afford Pfizer’s medicines. In 2022, the company provided 23 medicines and vaccines at cost to 45 countries, and last year expanded the program to include Pfizer’s entire drug portfolio. “In the disease heat map of the world, we hope that the red [countries] will be way less,” Bourla says.

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