GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance has announced a $150 million commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to an additional hundred million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as early as the first half of 2021.
Awarded through the foundation's Strategic Investment Fund, the funds will double the number of doses of AstraZeneca and Novavax candidate vaccines previously announced by GAVI, the Serum Institute of India (SII), and the foundation. Under the agreement, GAVI will provide upfront capital to SII, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, to help boost manufacturing capacity so that once a vaccine receives regulatory approval and World Health Organization prequalification, doses at a ceiling price of $3 can be distributed at scale to LMICs as part of the Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines (Gavi COVAX AMC). AstraZeneca's candidate vaccine, if successful, will be made available to sixty-one AMC-eligible countries, while Novavax's candidate will be available to all ninety-two countries supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC.
"This is vaccine manufacturing for the Global South, by the Global South, helping us to ensure no country is left behind when it comes to access to a COVID-19 vaccine," said GAVI chief executive Seth Berkley. "The momentum behind our effort to ensure global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is really building. Last week we were able to announce the historic number of countries that are now signed up to the COVAX Facility, today we can announce further doses of safe, effective vaccines that will be reserved specifically for low- and middle-income countries. No country, rich or poor, should be left at the back of the queue when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines; this collaboration brings us another step closer to achieving this goal."
Separately, Gates Foundation co-founders Bill and Melinda Gates and sixteen biopharmaceutical company executives issued a joint communiqué committing to further development of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines; ensuring the timely deliverability of those innovations; making them affordable in lower-income countries and ensure effective equitable distribution globally; and making the safety of patients and the public the highest priority.
"The commitments above will save lives only if partners across the entire development-to-deployment pathway work together to guarantee products reach the people who need them," the communiqué states. "The ACT-Accelerator offers a forum for collaboration and action, and the global community must collectively mobilize the resources partners have identified as critical to ending this pandemic for communities everywhere. By aligning those resources with the commitments above, we believe we will not only enable a faster path out of the current COVID-19 crisis but will also lay the foundation for a strong pandemic preparedness ecosystem the next time a pandemic arises."
(Photo credit: CEPI)