The global Covax program, which has relied heavily on AstraZeneca vaccines, announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement to purchase 500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna.
The doses will expand the vaccine portfolio under Covax, which aims to ensure poor countries have equitable access to vaccines to fight the pandemic.
Moderna is expected to begin supplying Covax in the last quarter of 2021, with 34 million doses available before the end of the year, Covax program co-leader Gavi said in a statement.
466 million additional doses of the two-dose vaccine will follow in 2022.
Covax is co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
“We are very pleased to sign this new agreement with Moderna, giving participants at Covax facilities access to another highly effective vaccine,” said Gavi Managing Director Seth Berkley.
“The expansion and diversity of its portfolio has always been a central goal for Covax, and to remain adaptable in the face of this ever-evolving pandemic – including the growing threat posed by new variants. “
The deal also contains options for potential access to future versions tailored to variants of the virus.
Under Covax, the cost of vaccines for the 92 poorest participating economies is covered by donors. The program aims to deliver enough doses to deliver up to 27% of the population of these territories by the end of 2021.
Dozens of wealthier participating countries are also purchasing vaccines through the facility with collective purchases.
– Quick offer –
Covax vaccines must have authorization from the WHO.
The United Nations health agency approved the Moderna product on Friday, making the US vaccine the fourth vaccine to receive the WHO emergency list after doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen and AstraZeneca made in India and Korea from South.
Only AstraZeneca and some Pfizer jabs currently go through the Covax program.
Covax has so far shipped more than 49 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine globally to 121 participating economies.
“We recognize that many countries have limited resources to access Covid-19 vaccines,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said welcoming the deal.
“We support Covax’s mission to ensure broad, affordable and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and we remain committed to doing all we can to end this ongoing pandemic.
Moderna said last week that it plans to produce up to three billion doses in 2022 with new funding commitments to boost supply at manufacturing sites in Europe and the United States.
The Moderna jab is already in use in 46 territories around the world, according to an AFP count.
– Delays and donations –
The main supplier of Covax is the Serum Institute of India, which produces AstraZeneca vaccines. But increasing demand for doses in India itself, where the pandemic is raging, has cut off plane supplies to Covax.
The program has also been pushed out of the market by wealthy countries who have made their own deals with manufacturers and taken a leap forward in immunizing their citizens.
The facility urgently needs 20 million doses by the end of June to cover the supply shortage and has begged rich countries to donate excess doses.
Sweden, which since March 25 has only used the AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 65, donated one million paid doses of the vaccine on Monday.
“Such support will ensure that people in vulnerable countries, especially in Africa, can receive their second dose,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
Countries like France and New Zealand have recently made similar donations.
At least 1.165 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have so far been injected around the world, according to an AFP tally.
Only 0.2 percent was administered in the 29 lowest-income countries, which are home to 9 percent of the world’s population.
© 2021 AFP