The World Health Organization (WHO) led COVAX initiative has announced that it had arrangements in place to access nearly 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, on behalf of 190 participating poor countries.
The arrangements will enable the participating countries to have access to these vaccines in the first half of 2021, with the first deliveries expected to start in the first quarter of next year.
This was disclosed in a press release by the WHO on Friday, December 18, 2020.
The WHO stated that COVAX will continue to develop its portfolio as this will be critical to achieving its goal of securing access to 2 billion doses of safe, effective and approved vaccines that are suitable for all participating countries. This is bearing in mind that these vaccine candidates are still under development.
However, today’s announcements offer the clearest pathway yet to end the acute phase of the pandemic by protecting the most vulnerable populations around the world. This includes delivering at least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses of approved vaccines in 2021 to the 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible for the COVAX AMC.
The WHO also pointed out some of the new deals for advance procurement of some of the vaccine candidates.
The WHO stated, ‘’The new deals announced today include the signing of an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca for 170 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate, and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Johnson & Johnson for 500 million doses of the Janssen candidate, which is currently being investigated as a single dose vaccine.
‘’These deals are in addition to existing agreements COVAX has with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for 200 million doses – with options for up to 900 million doses more – of either the AstraZeneca/Oxford or Novavax candidates, as well as a statement of intent for 200 million doses of the Sanofi/GSK vaccine candidate.’’
The CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Dr Richard Hatchet, said, “This commitment is evidence that the world learned an important lesson from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Our research and development efforts have begun to pay off. We now have safe and effective vaccines that can protect against COVID-19 and a clear pathway to securing 2 billion doses for the populations at greatest risk all around the world.”
“Securing the right of first refusal of successful vaccine production as part of R&D arrangements has helped guarantee equitable access to vaccines, a founding principle of CEPI. The challenge of delivering the vaccines that have demonstrated success, of completing the development of other promising vaccine candidates to further increase supply, and of ending the acute phase of the pandemic, lies ahead of us.”
What you need to know
- COVAX is a global initiative which was launched in April by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic. Bringing together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative, rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level.
- Coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, COVAX will achieve this by acting as a platform that will support the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and negotiate their pricing
- The COVAX Facility currently has 190 participating countries, which includes 98 higher-income economies and 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible to have their participation in the Facility supported via the financing mechanism known as the Gavi COVAX AMC.