Pfizer is donating a million vaccines to neighbouring states to save the lives of those affected by a strain of chickenpox in Germany, raising further questions about the company’s use of its workforce in the country’s heavily relied-upon vaccine supply.
About a million doses of the brand of chickenpox vaccine called GARDASIL had to be shipped to provinces in neighbouring states from Pfizer’s plant in Bavaria – that is enough for 180,000 children.
The Bavarian department of health says the parvovirus is the cause of severe disease among children. It said children experiencing serious illness had been treated in 20 hospitals and 144 schools since the parvovirus outbreak broke out on 23 June.
According to the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung, on Monday, Bavaria’s health minister’s office announced that Pfizer would be transferring a million doses of GARDASIL to Upper Austria and Lower Saxony.
Pfizer’s has come under scrutiny in Germany for months regarding safety concerns about the cowpox vaccine D-SPIDER.
Health authorities were forced to import the vaccine from Austria and drug companies suffered at the hands of consumers, who were outraged by the scandal.
D-SPIDER is seen as a safer alternative to the papillomavirus, known as chickenpox, which is contained in every dose of GARDASIL. But the Bavarian government told the US company that it could not supply the vaccine over safety concerns.
GARDASIL is in use in 180 countries. In 2017, it generated US$2.4 billion in sales.
In November, Pfizer emailed staff to offer them “interim support”.
One employee replied on LinkedIn, “Seeing that I am a full time employee in Bavaria and watching the development with concern, I called PFE on Friday to find out if I should be involved with my local workforce or leave my position.
“I was offered no answer as to my participation or my absence.”
The company has declined to make any comment since Monday’s statement.