Rollout will commence with the successful negotiation and execution of supply agreements, it stated.
Covax is a global initiative coordinated by World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income levels.
It includes an Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) financial mechanism that aims to ensure that 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries will be able to secure access to Covid-19 vaccines at the same time as higher-income countries.
In further support of its mission to expedite early availability of vaccines to lower-income countries and help bring a rapid end to the acute stage of the pandemic, Covax also confirmed yesterday (January 23) that it will exercise an option – via an existing agreement with Serum Institute of India (SII) – to receive its first 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University-developed vaccine manufactured by SII.
Of these first 100 million doses, the majority are earmarked for delivery in the first quarter of the year, pending WHO Emergency Use Listing.
The WHO review process, which is currently underway, 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.
According to the latest WHO update, a decision on this vaccine candidate is anticipated 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, pending emergency use listing by WHO of the Covax-specific manufacturing network for these doses. A decision on this candidate is also anticipated by WHO in February.
"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," said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which leads Covax procurement and delivery.
"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," noted Berkley.
Preparations, led by WHO, UNICEF and Gavi, are already well under way for Covax to deliver vaccines to economies eligible for support via the Covax AMC, with Gavi making $150 million available from its core funding as initial, catalytic support for preparedness and delivery.
“The urgent and equitable rollout of vaccines is not just a moral imperative, it’s also a health security, strategic and economic imperative,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.
“This agreement with Pfizer will help to enable Covax to save lives, stabilize health systems and drive the global economic recovery,” he added.
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