The Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) on Tuesday announced a further collaboration with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of an additional 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
This expansion brings the total number of vaccine doses to be covered by the partnership between the SII, GAVI, and the Gates Foundation to an aggregate of up to 200 million doses, following the initial agreement for up to 100 million doses announced in August this year.
The Gates Foundation, via its strategic investment fund, will provide at-risk funding of a further $150 million to GAVI, bringing the total funding provided through this collaboration to $300 million, the SII said in a statement. This funding will be used to support SII to manufacture potential vaccine candidates, and for future procurement of vaccines for India and the LMICs through GAVI’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) facility.
According to the statement, the collaboration will help provide upfront capital to SII — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume — to help it increase manufacturing capacity and distribute vaccine doses at scale to LMICs as early as the first half of 2021 once a vaccine (or vaccines) gains regulatory approval and the World Health Organisation (WHO) prequalification as part of the GAVI COVAX AMC mechanism.
“This collaboration further bolsters our fight against COVID-19. Through the avid support of GAVI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we will now manufacture and deliver up to an additional 100 million doses of immunogenic and safe-proven future COVID-19 vaccines to India and low- and middle-income countries in 2021,” Adar Poonawalla, CEO, SII, said.
Mr. Poonawalla further said that at this stage, it was important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one was left behind in the road to recovery.
“This association is in line with our efforts to see that future vaccines reach the remotest parts of the world and provide full immunisation coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic,” he said.
The funding is to help accelerate the manufacturing by SII for the candidate vaccines licensed from AstraZeneca and Novavax, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO prequalification. The vaccines will have a ceiling price of $3 per dose, a price enabled by investments made by partners such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gates Foundation, and SII.
The collaboration between GAVI, SII, and the Gates Foundation supports the efforts of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator’s vaccines pillar, also known as COVAX, co-led by GAVI, CEPI, and the WHO, to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure rapid, global access to them. Decisions around investment in manufacturing are taken in collaboration between these three lead organisations of the COVAX pillar.
The deal is additional to a memorandum of understanding between AstraZeneca and GAVI, announced in June, which will commit an additional 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine to the wider COVAX facility, to be supplied upon licensure or prequalification.