COVAX facility has signed a new advance purchase agreement of up to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to a new statement, the rollout of the drug will commence with the successful negotiation and execution of supply agreements which will add on to an existing agreement with Serum Institute of India (SII) in which the facility booked 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Of these first 100 million doses, the majority are earmarked for delivery in the first quarter of the year once WHO approves its emergency use. According to the latest WHO update, a decision on this vaccine candidate is anticipated by the middle of February.
“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.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General said the agreement with Pfizer comes in handy and will help in not only stabilizing health systems but also driving global economic recovery.
However, countries like Uganda that have joined the COVAX facility have already made their advance requests with for instance Uganda making initial orders of about two million doses of the vaccine to be given to key populations such as health workers.
Now, to offer more support to countries, the WHO announced that they will soon launch a country readiness portal which will allow participants to submit their final national deployment and vaccination plans. This they say is a vital step before allocations can be made, to ensure that delivered doses can be effectively deployed and to identify where, if necessary, further support is needed.
“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.”
The COVAX Facility intends to provide all 190 participating economies with an indicative allocation of doses by the end of this month. This indicative allocation will provide interim guidance to participants – offering a minimum planning scenario to enable preparations for the final allocation of the number of doses each participant will receive in the first rounds of vaccine distribution.
However, Gavi made up to US$ 150 million available to support preparedness and delivery of the vaccine