The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has announced a $150 million partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to a hundred million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and other low- and middle-income countries.
Awarded to Gavi through the foundation's Strategic Investment Fund, the funds will enable SII to build up its manufacturing capacity in preparation for the anticipated regulatory approval of a vaccine or vaccines. With the aim of producing doses at scale for distribution as early as the first half of 2021, the partnership will fund at-risk manufacturing of candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax at a ceiling price of $3 per dose.
The initiative supports COVAX, a collaboration of Gavi, the World Health Organization, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) that was launched as part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Under the new collaboration, AstraZeneca's candidate vaccine, if successful, will be made available to fifty-seven Gavi-eligible countries, while the vaccine from Novavax will be made available to all ninety-two countries supported by the Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines (Gavi COVAX AMC).
"In an attempt to make our fight against COVID-19 stronger and all-embracing, SII has partnered with Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the manufacturing and delivery of up to a hundred million doses of future COVID vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries in 2021," said SSI chief executive Adar Poonawalla. "[T]o ensure maximum immunization coverage and contain the pandemic, it is important to make sure that the most remote and poorest countries of the world have access to affordable cure and preventive measures. Through this association, we seek to ramp up our constant efforts to save the lives of millions of people from this dreadful disease."
(Photo credit: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance)