The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide an at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), which will be used to support Serum to manufacture potential vaccine candidates, including the ones from UK firm AstraZeneca, and US biotech company Novavax.
Significantly, the ceiling price is only for vaccines proposed to be distributed to 92 countries under the Covax alliance — co-led by Gavi, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organization (WHO), formed to accelerate development of Covid-19 vaccines and ensure their rapid and equitable access.
The company on Friday entered into a partnership with Gavi and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses for these countries. Of this, up to 50 million doses are expected to be made available in India alone, sources close to the development told TOI. Besides, India is also expected to get upto 50% of the one billion doses from Astra Zeneca, and a part of the one billion doses from Novavax, as part of their agreement with Serum Institute.
Through the partnership, the company will accelerate manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses as part of the agreement for India and LMICs, as early as the first half of 2021, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute said.
The collaboration will provide upfront capital to Serum to increase manufacturing capacity, so that once a vaccine gains regulatory approval and WHO prequalification, doses can be produced at a scale for distribution to India and LMICs.
Doses are expected to be allocated on a proportional basis across 92 countries, and in accordance with World Health Organization’s global allocation framework, which is currently under development. The framework prioritizes healthcare professionals and frontline and essential workers in each geography, in addition to those most at-risk from the virus, such as people over 65 or those with underlying health conditions.
The timeline will ultimately depend on the results of the phase 3 trials, and approval from the Drug Controller General of India and WHO prequalification. In the best-case scenario, the doses should be delivered in the first half of 2021.
Experts pointed out that additional manufacturing capacity may be needed at a global level and specifically for India, and hence require increased multilateral, government and philanthropic funding.
The collaboration between Gavi, Serum, and Gates Foundation supports the efforts of ACT Accelerator’s vaccines’ pillar, also known as Covax. Decisions around investment in manufacturing are taken in close collaboration between these three organisations.
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