The global body wants companies to donate at least 10 percent of their production or offer reduced prices for poor countries that could otherwise be left without vaccines if there is a sudden surge in demand. But some are skeptical about what such a commitment could mean for their business.
"I don't think that all of the answers are there yet," said Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG spokesman Eric Althoff.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who met with 30 major pharmaceutical manufacturers, called Tuesday for global solidarity in confronting the disease. Solidarity "must mean that all have access to drugs and vaccines," he added.
The only major drugmaker that publicly agreed to the WHO request Tuesday was Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC, which said it would donate 50 million doses in a pandemic and offer more that WHO could buy at a discount for poor countries.
A second drugmaker with only limited production capacity said it would share half of its vaccine doses. WHO officials declined to identify the company because the deal has yet to be signed.