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UPDATE 1-Pfizer to require U.S. workers receive COVID-19 vaccine or regular tests

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(Adds details, background, pix) 

  By Michael Erman 

  NEW YORK, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc, the U.S. drugmaker that developed a COVID-19 vaccine with German partner BioNTech, said on Wednesday it will require all its U.S. employees and contractors to become vaccinated against COVID-19 or participate in weekly COVID-19 testing. 

  Pfizer spokesperson Pamela Eisele said the company was taking the initiative in order to "to protect the health and safety of our colleagues and the communities we serve." Employees with medical conditions or religious objections can seek accommodations. 

  Outside of the United States, Pfizer will strongly encourage employees who are able be vaccinated in their countries to do so, Eisele said. 

  At the end of 2020, Pfizer had around 29,400 U.S-based employees. 

  With U.S. coronavirus cases rising sharply again due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, companies like Alphabet Inc and Walt Disney Inc have started putting vaccine mandates in place for their employees. 

  As of Tuesday, 70.1% of U.S. adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

  (Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler) 

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