Covax on track as pact signed with Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 23, 2021

Vaccines from AZ-Oxford, SII in the pipeline

The Covax facility is on track to deliver two billion doses by the year-end, the World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, announcing an agreement signed with the Pfizer-BioNtech combine for their Covid-19 vaccine.

The WHO-supported Covax initiative had signed an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for up to 40 million doses of its vaccine, he said. Theirs is the only one to have got the WHO’s emergency use listing.

Additionally, he said, pending WHO emergency use listing, about 150 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine would be available for distribution by Covax in the first quarter of this year. India’s Serum Institute of India (SII) has an alliance to produce and market the AZ-Oxford vaccine.

Taken together, Covax could begin delivering doses in February, he said, “provided we can finalise a supply agreement for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and emergency use listing for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.”

The agreement opens the door for countries that are willing to share doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be donated to Covax and support rapid rollout, he said.

WHO chief thanks Modi

The WHO chief also took to Twitter to thank the Indian Prime Minister on -support to the global COVID19 response. Brazil President Jair M. Bolsonaro also did the same for the vaccines sent by India to Brazil.

Further, the WHO said, to get vaccines faster to lower-income countries and help bring a rapid end to the acute stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, Covax will exercise an option, through an existing agreement with SII, to receive its first 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University-developed vaccine manufactured by SII.

“The WHO review process, which is currently under way, follows approval for restricted use in emergency situations by the Drugs Controller General of India earlier this month, and is a critical aspect of ensuring that any vaccine procured through COVAX is fully quality assured for international use,” the note said, adding that a decision on this vaccine candidate is anticipated by mid-February. The remaining 50 million doses is expected through an existing agreement with AZ on the Oxford vaccine.

Preparations, led by WHO, UNICEF and Gavi, are already well under way to deliver vaccines to economies eligible for support, with Gavi making $ 150 million available from its core funding as initial, catalytic support for preparedness and delivery, WHO said.

The Covax facility intends to provide all 190 participating economies with an indicative allocation of doses by the end of this month. “Covax now has agreements in place to access just over two billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates. Negotiations continue for further doses to be secured through existing agreements by Covax co-lead the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), through evaluations of new products with promising results and through contributions from donors. At least 1.3 billion of these doses will be made available to the 92 economies eligible for the Gavi COVAX AMC by the end of 2021”, it added.

Published on January 23, 2021

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