COVAX has announced the aligning of an advanced purchase agreement for up to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, meaning it is now on track to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of the year.
COVAX, the global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, also announced that, pending WHO emergency use listings, nearly 150 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate are anticipated to be available in Q1 2021, via existing agreements with the Serum Institute of India (SII) and AstraZeneca.
At least 1.3 billion doses will be delivered to 92 lower income economies in the Gavi COVAX AMC.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said: “The urgent and equitable rollout of vaccines is not just a moral imperative, it’s also a health security, strategic and economic imperative. This agreement with Pfizer will help to enable COVAX to save lives, stabilise health systems and drive the global economic recovery.”
Vaccine access for all
In order to facilitate early availability of vaccines to lower-income countries, the first 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine are earmarked for delivery in the first quarter of the year, pending WHO Emergency Use Listing, which the WHO is expecting a decision on by the middle of February. COVAX also anticipates that, via an existing agreement with AstraZeneca, at least 50 million further doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine will be available for delivery to COVAX participants in Q1 2021.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which leads COVAX procurement and delivery, said: “Today marks another milestone for COVAX: pending regulatory approval for the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate and pending the successful conclusion of the supply agreement for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, we anticipate being able to begin deliveries of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines by the end of February.
“This is not just significant for COVAX, it is a major step forward for equitable access to vaccines, and an essential part of the global effort to beat this pandemic. We will only be safe anywhere if we are safe everywhere.”
A “Country Readiness Portal” will be launched by WHO later this month which will allow COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) – the financing instrument supporting the participation of low- and middle-income economies in the COVAX Facility – participants to submit final national deployment and vaccination plans (NDVPs).
“These purchase agreements open the door for these lifesaving vaccines to become available to people in the most vulnerable countries,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “But at the same time that we are securing vaccines we must also ensure that countries are ready to receive them, deploy them, and build trust in them.”