Vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India (SII) has tied up with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to speed-up production and delivery of up to 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Though there is still ground to cover before a vaccine is commercially available, the Pune-based company said it had set the ceiling price of the vaccine at $3 per dose.

Serum Institute has production and supply agreements with the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine candidate and, more recently, with another US biotech company, Novavax. In fact, Serum Institute is poised to undertake late-stage clinical trials in India on the Oxford vaccine-probable.

Serum Institute said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi, which will help Serum Institute make the potential vaccine candidates and procure them for LMICs via Gavi’s COVAX AMC (advance market commitment), an investment instrument.

The collaboration with GAVI and the Gates Foundation will provide the company upfront capital to increase manufacturing capacity so that once a vaccine gains regulatory approval and WHO pre-qualification, doses can be produced at scale for distribution to India and LMIC as part of the Gavi COVAX AMC mechanism as early as the first half of 2021, a note from Serum Institute said.

Seed funding

Serum Institute has a history of partnerships with Gavi and pharma companies to manufacture vaccines for meningitis, severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles.

The Gavi COVAX AMC seeks at least $2 billion in initial seed funding to meet at least part of the procurement cost for the vaccine doses.

Under the new collaboration, if successful, AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine will be available to 57 Gavi-eligible countries and Novavax’s to all 92 countries supported by the AMC, the note said.


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