The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the world’s largest vaccine maker to ensure affordable access to a coronavirus vaccine for developing countries around the world.
The collaboration between the Gates organization and the Serum Institute of India will deliver up to 100 million doses of a vaccine of less than $ 3 (£ 2.3) each to low- and middle-income countries, with a additional provision option if necessary.
The partnership will produce the product on a large scale for distribution once a functional vaccine has been found and approved. The team could begin manufacturing in the first half of 2021.
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The deal comes as governments around the world attempt to secure the production and distribution rights of drug makers with promising candidates. The Gates-Serum partnership will ensure that the poorest countries are not cut off by the high prices once a vaccine is approved.
Although vaccines are still in development, drug companies have started to indicate how much they will charge per dose. This goes from the University of Oxford’s promise to deliver its vaccine worldwide at a cost of around $ 3 per injection, while Moderna is on the other side of the spectrum, announcing that its two-dose program will cost around $ 74 (£ 56.7).
The partnership also includes Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an international organization that supplies vaccines to developing countries, which will help fund Serum to increase their manufacturing capacity.
Serum already has contracts with candidate vaccines developed by Novavax and the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca.
“Researchers are making good progress in developing safe and effective vaccines against Covid-19,” Bill Gates said in a statement.
“But ensuring that everyone has access, as quickly as possible, will require significant manufacturing capacity and a global distribution network. This collaboration gives the world some of both: the power of India’s manufacturing sector and the Gavi supply chain.
The Oxford product is already at its advanced stage of testing, and the Novavax product is expected to enter phase three testing in the fall.
Each company has received more than $ 1 billion from the US government as part of the country’s efforts to obtain a vaccine.
A key supplier to the World Health Organization, Serum is the world’s largest producer by volume, producing 1.5 billion doses of vaccines per year.
While the vaccine development process typically takes 10 to 15 years, rampant research has sped up the operation to the point that a coronavirus vaccine can be approved by the end of the year.
Currently, 26 vaccines are being tested in humans, but only a few have reached the final stages of testing.