Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine maker by volume, will provide an additional 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for supplies to low and middle-income countries (LMICs) under the COVAX AMC alliance. This agreement is in addition to the initial agreement for up to 100 million doses supply announced in August.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of a further US$150 million to Gavi, bringing the total funding provided through this collaboration to US$300 million. The vaccines will have a ceiling price of US$3 per dose, thanks to investments made by partners such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for the vaccine supplies to low- and middle-income countries in 2021. The funding will help SSI increase manufacturing capacity now so that once a vaccine, or vaccines, gains regulatory approval and WHO pre-qualification. Serum is already making candidate vaccines licensed from AstraZeneca and Novavax, though the vaccines are still in the final clinical trial stages.
The Gavi COVAX AMC, which is currently seeking at least US$2 billion in initial seed funding, is trying to meet at least part of the cost of procurement for the vaccine doses. The Gavi Board has signed with 92 countries for supply of the AstraZeneca and Novavax's vaccines candidates. If successful, AstraZeneca's vaccine will be made available to 61 Gavi-eligible countries and the Novavax vaccine to 92 countries supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC.
"At this stage, It is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery. This association is In line with our efforts to see that the future vaccines reaches the remotest part of the world providing full immunisation coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.," said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance said the momentum behind the effort is to ensure global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is really building, as last week a number of countries had signed up to the COVAX Facility. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, CEPI and the World Health Organisation (WHO), to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines. So far 73 higher-income economies have formally committed to join the Facility, in addition to the 92 low- and middle-income economies that are eligible for support from the Gavi COVAX AMC.