The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday announced that it had reached an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine delivering to poor countries under its COVAX initiative next month.
COVAX is co-led by the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had received emergency use approval from the WHO. According to a press release by WHO, the availability of vaccines to lower-income countries and help bring a rapid end to the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVAX also confirmed that it will exercise an existing agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) – to receive its first 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University-developed vaccine manufactured by SII. It anticipates that, via an existing agreement with AstraZeneca, 100 million doses of the vaccine will be available for delivery in the first quarter of the year, the release 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,” 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,” Berkley added.
“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 World Health Organization.
Tedros further stated, “This agreement with Pfizer will help to enable COVAX to save lives, stabilize health systems and drive the global economic recovery.”
“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 we are securing vaccines we must also ensure that countries are ready to receive them, deploy them, and build trust in them,” Fore said further.
The COVAX Facility intends to provide all 190 participating economies with an indicative allocation of doses by the end of this month, the release said.