Covax, the global initiative to secure Covid-19 vaccines for international distribution announced on Friday that agreements had been inked with vaccine manufacturers to procure two billion doses for 192 countries, including 250 million doses for India.
The announcement was made during a press conference on Friday evening, with top World Health Organisation (WHO) officials, CEOs of several vaccine manufacturing firms as well as government officials from several countries.
The deal will enable participating countries to have access to doses of the vaccine in the first half of 2021, with first deliveries anticipated to begin in the first quarter of the following year.
A Covax representative told DH on Friday that India will be the beneficiary of a tailored package whereby the country will receive between 190 and 250 million total doses of the vaccine.
The Union government intends to vaccinate 300 million primary recipients with two doses each.
Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO, said the allocation was subject to regulatory approvals and countries’ readiness for delivery.
Vaccine manufacturers have agreed to supply the doses through 2021 and 2022, added Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
“For the vast majority of these deals, Covax has guaranteed access to a portion of the first wave of production, followed by volume scales as further supply becomes available,” Hatchett said.
Among the vaccine manufacturers who have committed to supply, some of the largest doses are the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Astra Zeneca which has pledged 170 million doses.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the SII, said his firm had signed an early commitment of 200 million dosages to Covax at a special price of Rs 220 per dose. “There is also a further option that Covax has the right to first refusal, to put on to us for another 900 million doses which we look forward to supplying and committing as well,” Poonawalla said.
In addition, Dr Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson said 200 million doses of its investigational single-dose Janssen Covid-19 vaccine would be delivered to Covax in 2021, with more in 2022. Clarifying how allocation of the vaccines would be carried out, Swaminathan said the doses will be distributed in tranches based on the percentage of the population.
“We cannot go for mass vaccinations on Day 1. We understand that most countries have prioritised their health workers and frontline workers and social care workers which normally constitute 2% to 3% of the population. Doses will be sent to cover that part of the population first and then moving progressively to cover 20% of the rest of the population,” she said.